Are consumers paying for the UP Power Corporation Ltd’s inefficiency?
The question arises because the corporation, which seems very eager to enforce a steep even crippling tariff hike on some sections of consumers, has not shown the same urgency to set its own house in order.
Sample this. Its arrears have doubled in the last two years owing to poor revenue recovery. The line losses have increased, indicating increased power theft. And the supply hours have decreased.
The corporation’s reply to the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) before the announcement of the revised tariff last Friday shows the UPPCL’s total arrears against consumers were a whopping Rs. 22,664 crore against around Rs. 15,000 crore less than two years ago. These arrears are as big as the total deficit projected by it for the year 2012-13 alone. An additional Rs. 600 crore is blocked because of litigation in various courts.
The line losses recorded by it up to March this year were around 27.92%.
The losses, it seems, have only increased slightly or remain almost the same vis-avis a year ago.
There are districts where the line-losses (read power theft) are as high as 40%. These include Baghpat (41%), Mahamayanagar (43.85%), Firozabad (41.40%), Etawah (49.09%), Kannauj (42 %), Jalaun (43%) and Mahoba (43.68 %).
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has decided to hold weekly meeting with MPs, MLAs and other people’s representatives every Monday from the first week of November. He will be meeting them between 9am and noon at his official residence. are till the end of March 2011).
“Over 40% of the electricity that the UPPCL supplies to these districts is lost largelybecause of pilferage,” says an official.
Worse, the UPPCL is unable to recover even 30%-40 % of the cost of power supplied to some divisions.
Sources say a scientific analysis of the losses in a few towns where the Centrefunded Revised Accelerated Power Reform Development Programme is being implemented has shown the losses to be much more than what they are being projected to be so far.
The same is the case with supply hours which have decreased at the consumers’ end. People in the cities and villages are now receiving three-four fewer hours of supply than they did in March this year.
While issuing a tariff order, the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) sets certain efficiency targets for the UPPCL each time.
These include reduction in line losses and recovery of arrears to enable it to bridge the deficit. “But the UPPCL always fails to achieve the targets. As a result, its deficit increases and the corporation cites this to claim a higher tariff hike the next time,” says a UPERC official.
He suggests the UPPCL first try to make up for the deficit by improving its efficiency instead of seeking unreasonable tariff hikes as an easy tool to increase its revenue.