Centre tells Chandigarh admn to speed up power privatisation
The power privatisation process is back on track in Chandigarh with the central government giving its go ahead in the latest communique to the UT administration. The administration now plans to open the bids within next 10 days, it is learnt.
The development comes after it was decided in a high-powered inter-ministerial meeting, held on February 26 and chaired by the Union home secretary, that the privatisation process should continue in those Union Territories where it is in advance stages.
Earlier, in February, the administration had put on hold the process in order to seek clarity from the Centre on the company formation and establishment of trust for employees.
On Friday, the minutes of the meeting were shared with the administration, with directions to expedite the process.
“After the bidding process completes, the administration would have to prepare a cabinet note on it and send it to the ministry of home affairs. The final approval would be given by the cabinet on the company formation and the trust establishment for employees,” said a senior UT official, requesting anonymity. The trust is to be formed for managing terminal benefits of employees.
“The administration has also been directed to consult Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) on the privatisation process, particularly the request for proposal (RFP) document, and make suitable changes in the process as per its advise,” said another senior official privy to the development.
Notably, the department of expenditure of the finance ministry has been requested to waive the appraisal process for power distribution company and trust formation, which is required under the Government of India Transaction of Business Rules 1961.
Six companies in fray
There are six companies in the race for taking over the electricity department — Sterlite Power, ReNew Wing Energy, NTPC Electric Supply Company Limited, Adani Transmission Ltd, Tata Power and Torrent Power.
The decision to privatise the electricity department was taken on May 12, 2020, after directions from the Centre. An empowered committee was constituted to oversee and implement the process. The administration had assured the Centre that the process would be completed by the end of 2020.
However, the first setback came on December 1, when the Punjab and Haryana high court stayed the process on the plea of UT Powermen Union.
After nudged by the Centre, the administration approached the Supreme Court on January 12, which stayed the high court order. A day after the SC relief, the administration immediately invited bids from interested firms.
Notably, in the UT of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, the Bombay high court has stayed the process even though bids have been opened and the company finalised.