Sheila's power claim questioned by experts

Don't take discoms' claims at face vale, transparency is needed


Jasleen Kaur | November 7, 2012

A full-page advertisement in national dailies, placed by the Delhi government, claiming cent percent power to citizens has raised many eyebrows.

The Sheila Dikshit government claims that discoms (distribution companies) have met the peak demand of 5,645 MW this year and there was no load shedding in the capital on account of deficiency of power supply.

It also says that there has been less than 0.3% of load shedding and aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses have been reduced to 15% from 53% prior to privatization. Also, transmission and distribution (T&D) losses have been significantly reduced due to better monitoring system and improved T&D structure. The government also claims to save Rs 15,000 crore of public exchequer solely on account of annual support to Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB, the previous, government-run entity).

The per capita consumption of the consumers in Delhi is more than 1,450 units as against the national average of 775 units, it says.

But power experts say there is no authenticity behind the claim.

Sanjay Kaul of People’s Action, the group which has been urging the government to build pressure on the discoms to withdraw their petition from court demanding exemption from RTI Act, says figures mentioned in the advertisement are provided by the discoms and it cannot be taken at face value. “When we cannot audit discoms, we can do anything but accept what is being told by them. There is no way we can check these figures. They are not ready to come under the RTI Act. A case is in court demanding CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) audit of discoms. So there is no transparency, it’s a completely opaque business,” he added.

In October, over 100 resident welfare associations (RWA) had petitioned prime minister Manmohan Singh and demanded a scrutiny of accounts of private power distribution companies by the CAG.

Arun Dutta , a power expert, says that there is no doubt about the sufficient supply of power in the city. He adds, “In fact, we have more than required, at times. Delhi’s requirement is 2,400 crore units and we have a supply of 4,000 crore units, especially during winters. The problem is that surplus power is sold at Rs 2 less than the purchased price, and we lose Rs 4,000 crore on this.”

Dutta says that the discoms must be covered under the RTI to make the method of cost and pricing transparent. “It is a complicated method of calculation and it is completely manipulated. But if we do not stop it here, in future power might be sold at Rs 10 per unit,” he adds. Dutta also says that the loss reduction to 15%, as claimed, was mandatory and the companies were given huge incentives for this. “The assets of Rs 9,000 crore has been built up – by changing the transformers, the lines, to reduce the theft. And still they have managed to reduce it to 16-17% and not 15% as was required. So they should be punished instead,” he added.

Technical and power expert Ravinder Singh says that energy input in Delhi may have gone up by 18 percent, as claimed by the government but the peak demand has been doubled. “The demand from the non-domestic users like malls and multi-storey apartments has increased in the last few years. But the government is recovering the money from the domestic consumers.”



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