In J&K, regulator for vital power sector existing only on papers

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 16: Though regulatory bodies in the power sector are being considered as vital organs everywhere in the country and have even been given sufficient powers to discharge their duties yet in Jammu and Kashmir the Electricity Regulatory Commission is existing only on the papers during the past quite long time for want of seriousness on the part of Government in making appointment of new Chairperson and Members. Due to this, the tariff petitions of two key organizations—Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corpor-ation and Power Development Department have been gathering dust in the office of the regulator.
The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) was established by way of Act which was enacted by the State Legislature in the year 2000. The primary functions of the Commission are to determine the tariff for electricity, wholesale, bulk, grid or retail; determine the tariff payable for use of the transmission facilities; regulate 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; promote competition, efficiency and economy in the activities of the electricity industry to achieve the objects and purposes of the legislation.
However, despite having such a huge responsibility to perform the Commission is existing only on papers as during the past quite long time there is no Chairperson or Member of this vital body. “It is a matter of serious concern that while power sector regulators at the national level and in almost all the States of the country are being given due importance keeping in view the entrusted responsibilities, in Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission has remained victim of Government’s apathy”, sources said.
While two members of the Commission completed their term three years back, the Chairperson demitted office on completion of term as per the provisions of the Act in December 2016.
“Till date no discussion has been initiated on filling the posts of Chairperson and Members despite the fact that tariff petitions of Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and Power Development Department have been gathering dust in the office of Commission”, sources said while disclosing that the tariff being charged by the PDD from the consumers has no legal sanctity as it’s applicability was extended for a specified period only.
Stating that Government was flouting the J&K SERC Act, they said that Section 4 of the 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, no adherence has been shown to this provision till date.
“Even a Selection Committee headed by Minister Incharge Power and comprising of Principal Secretary to Government, Power Development Department and Member Central Electricity Regulatory Commission as nominated by its Chairman has not met till date despite the fact that it is only on the recommendation of Selection Committee that the Government will take final call”, sources said while disclosing that Selection Committee is required to recommend a panel of two names for every vacancy.
“Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, who is Minister Incharge Power has not held any discussion on filling vacant posts in the Electricity Regulatory Commission till date”, sources informed, adding “even the people have been deprived of a platform where they can raise their grievances vis-à-vis functioning of PDD as under SERC Act the Commission enjoys sufficient powers to pass directions to the Power Development Department for promptly acting on the issues of the common masses”.
The most shocking aspect is that even the post of the Secretary is lying vacant despite the fact that only Secretary is empowered to conduct correspondence either with the Government or with those at the helm of affairs in the power sector bodies, sources said, adding “in the absence of Secretary the Power Development Department and Power Development Corporation are finding it difficult to conduct any correspondence with the Commission especially on their respective tariff petitions”.
“If the Government doesn’t want to make this vital Commission functional and continue to violate the legislation in utter disregard to the State Legislature it should permanently wind up the regulator”, sources remarked, adding “it is not understandable as to how the Government can justify its tall claims about paying required attention towards power sector when it has maintained non-serious attitude towards vital Commission, which has multifarious duties to perform in the power sector”.

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