PDD to issue Rs 7000 cr worth bonds to liquidate liabilities: CM

* Excise duty cut, Amnesty introduced: DyCM

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 29: The State Government today announced that it would issue public bonds worth Rs 7000 crores to liquidate liabilities on account of power purchase bill as this was the only option left to check mounting losses on account of electricity. The bonds were likely to be issued by first week of January i.e. before presentation of next financial year’s general budget by the Government in the Legislature.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed made this announcement in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister, Incharge Power Development Department (PDD), Dr Nirmal Singh and Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu at a high level meeting in Srinagar to review power scenario in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The PDD will issue the public bonds worth Rs 7000 crores to generate an equal amount of money to liquidate liabilities of the Department, which have been going up with every passing year. This will not impact functioning of the PDD or lead to increase in power tariff but stabilize working of the Department,” official sources told the Excelsior.
They said Mufti Sayeed gave go ahead for issuance of the public bonds in the meeting and directed the Power and Finance Ministries to complete the formalities on this account. They added that the Power and Finance Ministries were of the view that issuance of public bonds would no way harm the State or the PDD and rather help the Department to cope up with huge liabilities that have piled up over the years.
This will be for the first time when the PDD would issue public bonds to cope up with the liabilities, which it had to suffer due to widening gap between power purchase bill and revenue generated from supply of electricity to the consumers.
Sources said the Chief Minister was confident that there will be good public response in the market to the PDD bonds.
“Once the PDD liabilities were liquidated, the Department would take steps to ensure that they didn’t pile up again,” he added.
After the success of dedicated power supply to Katra town, the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine, in Reasi district, the Chief Minister directed the PDD to take up tourist spots, to begin with Pahalgam, for the similar scheme to provide 24×7 electricity supply to the tourists to attract them to the tourist spots. Gulmarg will be taken up in the next phase followed by Patnitop.
In the long run, sources said, Mufti Sayeed asked the PDD to cover all tourist spots under dedicated power supply scheme. The pilgrim tourist spots will also be covered under the scheme.
Sources said under the scheme new transformers will be installed at tourist places to provide round-the-clock power supply to tourist spots including the pilgrim towns.
While the PDD has already implemented such a scheme in Katra town, where thousands of pilgrims arrive daily for darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi ji, it will be implemented at other places in phased manner. However, Pahalgam, the tourist spot, which also serves as base camp during two months long annual pilgrimage of Amarnath ji, will be taken up immediately for dedicated power supply followed by Gulmarg.
Dr Nirmal Singh told the meeting that the PDD has ordered reduction of excise duty on the electricity bills from 22 per cent to 12 per cent, which will reduce burden on the people. Apart from this, he said, the general amnesty scheme was also in place to help defaulters clear their arrears.
He announced that the PDD was going to introduce concept of smart metering and complete target of 100 per cent metering next year.
“At present, only half of the population was covered by the meters and by the end of next year, we proposed to cover 100 per cent,” he said.
The Chief Minister called for ensuring that the people faced minimum power curtailments during the winters and the PDD adhered to power cut schedules strictly.
To minimize inconvenience to people during hostile wintry conditions, the Chief Minister directed the PDD to work out an institutional mechanism that will ensure availability of power, strictly in accordance with the schedule notified by it.
He also issued instructions to fast-track metering and gearing up inspections to check the pilferage of power. “With onset of winter, it has become imperative to educate people to make judicious use of power, enabling the department to deliver better services and reduce damage to transformers,” he observed.
Minister for Finance & Culture, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister of State for Power, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas and Commissioner / Secretary PDD, Dheeraj Gupta also attended the meeting.
Pointing out the difficulties countenanced by people in winter when peak demand for electricity goes up manifolds, Mufti Sayeed stressed upon creation of an institutional grid that monitors curtailment schedules and power pilferage. “It is the duty of the department to religiously adhere to curtailment schedules so that people do not face any hardships,” he said.
During harsh winters in the past, the people have faced difficulties due to regular power outages and breakdown of transformers.
The Chief Minister also directed the Chief Secretary to obtain details of present status of private power projects in the State, adding the Government should provide the required facilitation for private players to operate in a hassle-free manner.
In the first six months this fiscal, a total of Rs.802.29 crore revenue has been realized. The meeting was informed that the department expects to realize revenue of Rs.2000 crore this year. Last year, the total revenue realized was to the tune of Rs.1736.27 crore.
To close gaps in power purchases, the Chief Minister was also briefed about the Committee framed for preparing a Draft Power Purchase Policy which will submit its recommendation on surrender of costly power allocations, possible tariff intervention, power swapping and banking arrangements and reduction of wheeling costs.

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