Governor directs for making SERC functional in shortest possible time

Expresses concern over revenue loss for want of tariff revision
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 19: Perturbed over continuous loss to the State exchequer for want of revision in the power distribution and generation tariff during the past two years, Governor N N Vohra has issued directions for making Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) functional within shortest possible time.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that during recent meeting convened to review implementation of power sector schemes in the State, Governor noted with concern that no serious attention was paid towards the State Electricity Regulatory Commission, which is lying completely defunct since December 2016.
He was briefed by Hirdesh Kumar, Commissioner/ Secretary to Government Power Development Department that earlier a panel was prepared for the posts of Chairperson and two Members of the Commission but no further progress could be made and in the meanwhile some of the persons in the panel were considered by the Government for other Commissions and bodies.
Thereafter, applications were received from some more eligible persons and now list of probables for the posts of Chairperson and Members of the Commission has been prepared, the Power Secretary further informed the Governor.
He admitted that in the absence of functional State Electricity Regulatory Commission the Power Development Department could not revise power distribution tariff during the past two consecutive years. Similarly, there was no revision in the power generation tariff despite submission of petition by the Power Development Corporation, sources informed.
Observing that non-revision of power tariff has caused huge loss to the exchequer, the Governor directed the Chief Secretary to ensure that Commission is made functional within shortest possible time to examine tariff revision and other issues, sources said.
“Even if minor increase in the power tariff is affected in order to avoid major burden on the consumers, the same assumes much importance for the Power Development Department as even slightest hike in tariff generates crores of rupees for the department”, sources said.
Similarly, revision in generation tariff amounts to financially empowering the Power Development Corporation, which will subsequently help the Corporation in infusing money in the ongoing projects for their timely completion.
According to the sources, Selection Committee headed by Chief Secretary is going to meet shortly to consider the list of the probables prepared by the Power Development Department for the posts of Chairperson and Members of SERC.
“From the list of probables the Selection Committee will shortlist at least two persons for each post and forward the same to the State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor for approval”, sources said.
Section 4 of the J&K State Electricity Regulatory Commission Act clearly states that the Government shall six months before the superannuation or end of tenure of Chairperson or a Member make a reference to the Selection Committee for filling up of the vacancies.
However, this provision was blatantly ignored by the Government for several years for the unknown reasons as a result of which Commission became completely defunct in December 2016 following completion of term of its Chairperson. Two members of the Commission had completed their term more than three years back.
“The Commission is not only meant for revision of power distribution and generation tariff. It also enjoys sufficient powers under SERC Act to pass directions to the Power Development Department for promptly acting on the issues of the common masses raised during the public hearings”, sources said.
It is worthwhile to mention here that SERC has been assigned several vital duties by the Legislature like determining the tariff for electricity, wholesale, bulk, grid or retail; determining the tariff payable for use of the transmission facilities; regulating power purchase and procurement process of the transmission and distribution utilities including the price at which the power shall be procured from the generating companies, generating stations or from other sources for transmission, sale, distribution and supply in the State; promoting competition, efficiency and economy in the activities of the electricity industry.