State Electricity Regulatory Commission

That a Regulatory Commission established by an Act of the Legislature with varied functions should lie defunct and asleep for the last two years, could happen in Jammu and Kashmir State, a fact which should not surprise many, looking to the insouciant and half- hearted approach of the State administration towards an issue as vital as electricity – its generation, distribution and pricing.  It is in respect of Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), established and incorporated by an Act of legislature titled “Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission Act 2000” which, unfortunately, has been lying totally dormant and inoperative since the year 2016.
The main functions of the Commission are enumerated in the Act itself, the top ones being rationalization of electricity tariff, transparent policies in respect of subsidies, evolving environmental friendly policies and other related matters. The issue of pricing or tariff of electricity, whether wholesale or retail, are mandated  to be determined and reviewed by the Commission from time to time and this fixation is not arbitrary but dictated by various factors like the cost of supply as well as the quality of supply or the supply with improved levels of efficiency. Having said all this, it is beyond comprehension as to why the Commission should not perform its designated role, at least in this critical area. Governor N N Vohra has, now, issued strict directions for making the Commission functional and performing.
While reviewing implementation of schemes of the power sector in the State, Governor noted with concern that no serious attention had been paid towards reversing the causes of dormancy of the Commission for two years. Why had the previous Government adopted taciturnity and reticence towards this issue especially in the light of the State exchequers having been subjected to incurring heavy losses on account of no revision or review of the tariff of power generation and distribution.
It is ludicrous that there should be confusion coupled with a deliberate ‘go slow’ approach in empanelling the members on the Commission as also for its post of Chairperson. List of the “probables” reportedly had been shortlisted and now is prepared for final decision to be taken by the Selection Committee headed by the Chief Secretary. Since the Commission could not function, the tariffs too could not be revised. We are pained to find more of political consideration in the entire gamut of the dormancy of the Commission rather than any cogent reasons.
Two consecutive years were deliberately allowed to go without any decision on reviewing of power tariff. It is despite the fact that petitions and pleas, reportedly were submitted by the Power Development Corporation to the Government which only vindicates our fears of indulgence of more politics in the entire issue rather than simple principles of generating revenues, resulting in at least addressing and reversing the fait-accompli  of incurring losses by the State coffers. For any State, politics and appeasement apart, the path to development and progress lies largely in averting losses and revenue leakages,  stopping ostentatious and avoidable expenditures and at the top of it, generate reasonably enough revenues. In the instant case, regular reviewing of power tariff would address that problem besides ensuring regular and quality supply of electricity to consumers.


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