Mend your ways to improve financial health of the department or be prepared for its privatization.
This was the terse message—loud and clear for the state’s over 300 senior power engineers who attended the jumbo meeting called by Energy Minister, Ramvir Upadhyaya at the Gannna Sansthan in Lucknow on Wednesday. The meeting was different from previous meetings at least in one significant way. There was no review of work. The minister and the senior UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) bosses tried to hammer, one after another, only one thing that the financial position of the department was going form bad to worse to the extent that it was may not survive for long without effectively checking power theft and speeding up revenue recovery.
“Show results within six months or the government will not hesitate to take a stern action without caring for possible agitations and strike,” the minister warned hinting at the privatization of the power sector as a final treatment. He even cited the example of Agra (which was recently handed over to a private company) to drive the point home.
He regretted that engineers had failed in their basic job of preventing power theft. He said pilferage could not take place anywhere in the state without the connivance of the departmental employees. “The government has given you a free hand and the district administration is cooperating with fully on the Chief Minister’s directives but you are not able to check the rampant power theft, especially in industries, with the result that lines losses are going up and up,” he pointed out.
The minister advised engineers not to fudge figures and present the true picture. He said figures presented on line losses were not true and asked why revenue collection was not increasing if line losses had actually decreased as engineers often claimed.
He said the revenue recovery was too poor to be able to sustain the department any more. He said even well-intentioned schemes like the One Settlement and load enhance schemes had failed to achieve much due to lack of efforts by engineers. “ The UPPCL’s cumulative losses over the years have crosses Rs 18,000 crore,” he disclosed. Updhyaya also regretted that farmers were not getting proper and uninterrupted power supply causing a lost of hardships to them.
Among those present at the meeting were UPPCL Chairman-cum Managing Director, Navneet Sehgal, Utpadan Nigam, CMD, Alok Tandon, UPPCL ADD, Narendra Bhushan, and ADG (Vigilance), Shailja Kant Mishra.