Alerting the state government over the alarming commercial losses of the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL), the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) engineers' association has urged the chief minister to save the organisation.
Putting the financial position of the power generation in the state, before the CM Parkash Singh Badal, who presided over annual general body meeting in Patiala on Saturday, the engineers said that this was the first time that PSPCL defaulted in making timely payments to banks and had to surrender the rebate by making delayed payments against the power purchase bills.
President of the association HS Bedi while addressing Badal said, "With the cumulative commercial losses of more than Rs 11,000 crore and subsidy burden likely to touch Rs 5,500 crore during 2012-13, the credit rating of the firm has already been lowered by the credit agencies and banks are refusing to extend credit."
The major causes of cash crunch in the company as stated by the engineers' association are, non-payment of subsidies in advance - that too in cash - by the government and disallowances of genuine expenditure by Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC).
The power engineers also told the CM that a justified tariff hike from the regulatory commission, will assure advance payment of subsidy in cash from the state government and further improve the performance parameters by the power utilities, will help the power corporation (PSPCL) show profits within a year.
While appreciating the initiative of SAD-BJP government to make Punjab a power surplus state, the association expressed serious reservations on the policy of the government to depend entirely on the private sector for additional capacity in the state.
With the commissioning of the proposed capacity in the private sector, the share of own generation will come down from 52% to less than 20% which will be inadequate for managing power system in an economically efficient manner.
The engineers' association demanded execution of the already approved state sector 1,320 MW Mukerian thermal plant on a priority basis. They have also requested Badal to execute the 2,640 MW Gidderbaha thermal plant in the state sector as National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has not taken any action to execute this project. Speedy execution of Shahpur Kandi project has also been demanded.
The association also raised the issue of stagnation in the engineering cadre and sought CM's intervention as the managements of the two power companies are indifferent to the problems.
Bedi said, "Two power companies are recruiting assistant engineers (AES) with a pay scale lower than the scale of working AEs which is not only against the tripartite (involving three participants) agreement but also exploitation of unemployed youth." The engineers' association also expressed strong opposition to the reported move to create a separate generation company in the state.