Sixth power policy in four years

| 30 December 1998 10:10 IST

It is the sixth power policy in last four years the one-month old Congress government has now planned for Goa, rejecting its own policy adopted while being in power till July this year.

The tourist state however continues struggling for more power while industrial development has totally come to a standstill due to high court ban on new power connections. Even a small shop cannot be opened due to the ban imposed since July.

The new power policy Luizinho Faleiro government is planning to introduce is to corporatise its own electricity department for transmission and distribution while allowing private generation through competitive bidding and signing PPAs with the proposed corporation.

Though he earlier said that all the decisions taken by the erstwhile Wilfred de Souza's coalition government would be reversed, power minister Dr Wilfred Mesquita also does not wish to go ahead with the open sky policy, planned by the Congress earlier, which had allowed private generators to sell its power to the consumers directly.

The major decision Mesquita plans to seek the cabinet approval is for setting up a corporation to look after transmission and generation in a professional manner. The coalition government had deferred a decision in this regard.

Going against de Souza's decision not to set up the state power regulatory commission, Mesquita has decided to continue the procedure as it has already been notified. The one-man commission would primarily fix the tariff structure for consumers.

Though Mesquita has decided to reject the detailed study plan submitted by the International Finance Corporation to privatise transmission and distribution, he is fully in favour of its proposal to introduce the energy tax at different levels, by preparing slots on the basis of the unit consumption.

Though there would not be subsidy as such, any consumer using minimum units of power would be exempted from imposition of the energy tax, which would be considered as the subsidy. The revenue would be used for improving the infrastructure, adds Mesquita.

The state presently draws around 220 MW from southern and western grids of the National Thermal Power Corporation at the rate of Rs 1.33 while the privately generated power would approximately cost around Rs three per unit, based on which the average tariff would be worked out.

The power situation in the state is expected to stabilise after commissioning of 40 MW private project of the Reliance Salgaoncar Pvt Ltd only in terms of meeting the uninterrupted power requirement of 258 MW, against the present availability of 220 MW.

However, surprisingly, Mesquita is not in favour of scrapping the PPA the RSPL has signed with the Mormugao Port Trust to sell its additional 10 MW power it would generate, though his government plans not to allow direct sale of power. "What can I do with the PPA signed in the past", he asks, though de Souza government had decided to scrap the PPA.

In fact, this firm stand of de Souza had become the bone of contention to topple his three and a half month old coalition government, with reportedly active participation of Dattaraj Salgaoncar, the son-in-law of Dhirubhai Ambani heading the RSPL.

Dr Willy, confirming the news, had even commented after his downfall that the new government had come to power on the issue of power and it is bound to reverse all his decisions, which were affecting a particular lobby in the private power sector.

Though the RSPL was also reportedly interested in transmission and distribution, Mesquita has however preferred to seek cabinet approval for corporatisation of his own department. The power department presently earns annual revenue of Rs 84 crore, due to which the department officials feel it should not be handed over to a private party.

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