Communication blockade prevents SERC from proceeding on power tariff petition

Reorganization of PDD, PDC to further delay entire exercise
J&K struggling to raise funds for timely clearance of bills

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Oct 7: Prolonged communication blockade in the Kashmir valley is preventing Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) from proceeding on the power tariff petition filed by the Power Development Department. Due to this, there are grim chances of revision in tariff for the third consecutive year although State is still struggling to generate enough funds for timely clearance of power purchase bills.
The revision in power tariff was last made in the year 2016-17 and thereafter no such exercise could be carried out as the State Electricity Regulatory Commission remained defunct for quite long time.
The Commission became functional few months back after Governor’s Administration appointed new Chairperson and two Members as per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 2000.
Last month, the Power Development Department filed tariff revision petition before the Commission with the hope that this exercise after two years would help in generating sufficient revenue to meet the expenditure on purchase of power.
“However, due to communication blockade in the entire Kashmir valley the Electricity Regulatory Commission is finding it difficult to proceed on the power tariff revision petition”, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “due to snapping of internet services the Commission is not in a position to put the petition in the public domain for inviting objections and suggestions”.
They further said, “no doubt such an exercise can be conducted in Jammu region where people can make use of broadband service to comment and make suggestions on the power tariff revision petition but keeping people of entire Kashmir valley out of this exercise would be highly unjustified”.
“It is only because of communication clampdown that Commission has even not posted Power Development Department’s tariff revision petition on its website as that would be an exercise in futility”, sources said, adding “it would be only after receiving comments and suggestions that the Commission can initiate the step of holding public hearings and then convening meeting of the Advisory Committee to take the tariff revision petition to the logical conclusion”.
“Since there is no clarity on the restoration of internet services uncertainty is looming large over revision in the tariff for the third consecutive year”, sources said, adding “as more than half of the current financial year is already over any revision in the tariff even within next one or two months would not make any big difference vis-à-vis generating more funds for the Power Development Department”.
Disclosing that Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation has even not filed the power generation tariff revision petition, sources said, “the Corporation had completed entire exercise in this regard several months back but because of communication blockade those at the helm of affairs in the Corporation decided not to file petition before SERC”.
The power tariff revision would face further delay as exercise has already been set into motion for reorganization of Power Development Department and Power Development Corporation as per the provisions of J&K State Reorganization Act, 2019, which was passed by the Parliament in the month of August.
Following completion of reorganization exercise within next few months there will be separate Ladakh Power Distribution Company Limited for Union Territory of Ladakh, Jammu Power Distribution Company Limited and Kashmir Power Distribution Company for Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, there will be Ladakh Power Development Company and all this will lead to filing of multiple petitions before the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
“Due to all these reasons, the State is unlikely to see immediate increase in revenue to meet the expenditure on purchase of power and for timely clearance of bills”, sources further said.
It is pertinent to mention here that early this year country’s largest power generator NTPC had warned to regulate power supply to Jammu and Kashmir for not clearing Rs 1985 crore dues. NTPC has been supplying around 940 Mega Watts of power to the State from various power stations.
“Such warnings are being regularly received by the State Government because of its inability to timely clear the power purchase bills”, sources said.


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