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Power firm may pay for outages

delhi Updated: Aug 06, 2009 23:42 IST
Avishek G Dastidar
Avishek G Dastidar
Hindustan Times
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In a first-of-its-kind move, power regulator Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has held the capital’s biggest private power distributor guilty of unwarranted, arbitrary power cuts in June.

On Thursday, BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) received a notice from DERC, asking why its licence should not be suspended for a year.

BRPL, an Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company, distributes electricity to south, west and central Delhi areas.

In June, the city faced its worst power crisis since power distribution was privatised in 2003, with eight-ten hour cuts leading to protests and violence against distcom officials.

Two weeks ago, DERC started a probe to find out which distcom was to blame for the crisis.

Hindustan Times was the first to report about the power crisis in June and the power regulator’s probe.

“We’ve invoked Section 24 of the Electricity Act, 2003, which gives us the power to suspend the licence in the rarest of the rare case,” said A.K. Tewary, DERC secretary. “We think BRPL’s culpability falls in that category because of the immensity of the crisis.”

The commission also sought to impose a personal penalty on BRPL CEO Arun Kanchan.

Kanchan refused to comment on the notice, saying he was yet to see it. “But anyone is welcome to probe us,” he said. “We haven’t done anything wrong and the probe will prove it.”

During the probe, DERC trawled through the data of the capital’s three distcoms. BSES Yamuna, a sister concern of BRPL, and Tata-backed NDPL were cleared of wrongdoing.

“In June, BRPL shed 24 million units of power — out of Delhi’s total load-shedding of 32 million units,” said a senior DERC official who did not want to be named. “It did not buy power when it could have. Also, it sold Delhi’s power to other states while people here suffered.”

One million units of power can light up about 2,000 middle-class homes for a month in summer.