With 70% of Delhi staring at a blackout from Monday, Reliance group-backed power distribution companies moved the Supreme Court on Thursday against the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) notice threatening to cut supply over unpaid dues.
Commuters wait in line at a Metro station after Delhi Metro rail services were disrupted following power outage in New Delhi. India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving more than 600 million people without government-supplied electricity in one of the world's biggest-ever blackouts. AP/Manish Swarup
Due to the urgency of the matter, the court will hear the petitions of BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and BSES Yamuna Power Limited on Friday. The BSES firms — run by Reliance Infrastructure, with the Delhi government holding a 49% stake — feed south, east and central Delhi.
On Wednesday, the two discoms also wrote to the Delhi power department asking it to immediately release pending subsidy of Rs. 262 crore to help them pay off their dues to NTPC, which amount to Rs. 400 crore.
This attempt to shift the onus of ensuring the city does not plunge into darkness on to the government came days after the AAP regime threatened to have BSES’ licences suspended or revoked.
“We have been requesting the Delhi government through various letters to release subsidy due to BRPL ( Rs. 166.35 crore) and BYPL ( Rs. 95.79 crore), which would help us meet the dues of NTPC... This would avoid the imminent crisis of regulation of power till the time a long-term solution is found,” the letter states. It also adds that under the Electricity Act of 2003, the subsidy amount is to be paid in advance.
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“Agreeing to the discoms’ request for an early hearing, the SC, however, noted, “Everything is happening in Delhi. Why is the Supreme Court the only remedy? There is the high court too.” The counsel for the firms told the bench that this was because a similar matter was pending before the top court already.
In their petitions, the discoms blamed both the Delhi government and Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) for their financial losses. They said the DERC’s illegal decisions had forced them to take loans to fund their day-to-day operations and left them with “inadequate monies to pay suppliers”.
The BSES firms claimed DERC had issued notices to suspend their licences at the government’s behest despite earlier admitting that the discoms suffered losses due to tariff structures and advising the government to take “various ameliorative measures”.
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