Wednesday, April 05, 2006

BSEB is exploring ways to pay NTPC dues

A major part of Bihar, including Patna, continues to face a severe power crisis with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) sticking to its decision to regulate its supply to the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) with effect from Monday midnight over the payment of outstanding dues.

The NTPC move is the result of the Bihar government's failure to pay its outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 200 crore.
According to official sources, the NTPC regulated 15 per cent of the total electricity supplied to Bihar on Monday.

The state on Monday drew a total of 645 MW of power from the Central sector out of which 150 MW was taken at a higher price. Bihar could drew more power on Monday as compared to Sunday due to the resumption of power generation by one unit each of the NTPC's Talchar and Farakka plants.

BSEB officials are exploring ways to arrange for an additional amount of Rs 200 crore for immediate payment to the NTPC. Inquiries revealed that the BSEB buys electricity worth Rs 118 crore (at a cheaper tariff) but its income varies between Rs 65-70 crore

The BSEB is facing a dire financial crisis. The monthly deficit of the BSEB is around Rs 107 crore, said an official. The more it sells the more its losses are.

Out of the total allocation of 645 MW of power, the Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (Pesu) has been allocated 200 MW to cater to the needs of the state capital and its neighbouring areas.

BSEB spokesman Arjun Singh said: "We are ready to pay the arrears to the NTPC immediately if we get our share of 950 MW of power. Due to the shutdown of NTPC plants, we have hardly received 700 MW of power in recent months."

Except for Patna, none of the towns are getting uninterrupted power supply even for three hours. The people living in the towns like Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Darbhanga and Madhepura have lost all hopes in this regard.

Hundreds of small industrial units, rice mills and government hospitals are badly hit due to the acute shortage of power in the state. "There is no respite from the ongoing crisis. Rather it has gone worse," said a city-based industrialist here.

As many as 1,000 small industrial units located in different parts of the state have been declared either sick or closed during the last five years mainly due to the non-availability of power, according to a recent survey conducted by the Bihar Industries Association (BIA).

"Only big announcements are made. The situation has become worse now. There is a total absence of work at the ground level," said an official.

The condition of almost all the government hospitals and health centres, including medical college hospitals, is pathetic due to the non-availability of power.

All the prominent doctors have installed high-capacity generators to run their private hospitals and nursing homes at Patna, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and other places.

More than 2,500 medium and small rice mills are operational in Bihar. Most of them are being run with the help of diesel generators due to the non-availability of electricity in rural Bihar. The rampant power theft in the city has put Pesu in a tight spot.

According to sources, thousands of residents of posh localities like S K Puri, Boring Road and Pataliputra Colony have illegally installed "special switches" on their premises to tamper with the readings of the power meters. The "special switches" have really become a headache for Pesu, said a Pesu official.
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