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Punjab power sector’s ‘powerless’ bosses

punjab Updated: Aug 04, 2016 11:21 IST
Vishal Rambani
Vishal Rambani
Hindustan Times
power sector

PSPCL head office in Patiala. (HT Photo)

Two years after starting the process, the Punjab government still hasn’t appointed regular directors for the power corporations. Why would it? When ad-hoc-ism suits the government.

Decision-makers who know they are in office only “till further orders” have led Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and Punjab State Power Transmission Limited (PSTCL) to lower ratings and consumer dissatisfaction. “But the ruling party finds these insecure ad-hoc directors easy to tame and manipulate as it wishes,” said a power engineer. “So it keeps them.”

The PSPCL needs a director (human resources) since November 2012 and the directors of commercial operations and distribution since June 2014. Both of the last two are stop-gap. The incumbent directors are ineligible for reappointment on account of age, yet their political masters are lobbying against new appointment. Appointed in 2010 for one year, director (commercial) received three-year extension, and in June 2014, was asked to “continue till further orders”. Appointed in July 2013 for one year, director (distribution) also was asked to continue in 2014.

Punjab State Power Transmission Limited (PSTCL) has no regular chairman and managing director (CMD). Recently, power secretary received this additional charge that earlier was with PSTCL director (finance). Extended twice, the PSPCL CMD’s term expired in February 2015, and he is also continuing till further orders. Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission is a member short since December 2014.

Constituted in July 2014, a high-powered committee comprising the chief secretary, power secretary, and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) chairman has failed to recommend names for the PSPCL directors, even though many candidates applied.


Ad-hoc-ism brought the PSPCL from A+ to B+ in Power Ministry annual ratings. “Because of adhoc-ism, the PSPCL can’t take timely decision on coal-mine operations and how to use private thermal plants to which it pays Rs 2,700 crore a year,” said an engineer. “It’s money from the pocket of consumers.”


Principal secretary A Venu Parsad accepted the delay in finalising the process but said the REC chairman was not available for finalising names for director (commercial). “We have advertised the post of director (distribution) to fill it this month, together with the vacancy for director (commercial),” he said. The proposal to fill remaining positions is with the government.