Andhra-Telangana spar on power bill arrears
After sparring over sharing of Krishna river waters, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are now locked in a battle over electricity dues between the two states pending since the bifurcation of the combined state in June 2014.
Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corporation (APGenco) on Monday moved the Telangana high court stating that the two Discoms of Telangana – Southern Power Distribution Company Ltd (SPDCL) and Northern Power Distribution Company Ltd (NPDCL) -- owed dues to the extent of ₹3,441.78 crore, along with interest of ₹2,841.90 crore, as on August 31, 2021.
A division bench of the high court comprising acting chief justice M S Ramachandra Rao and justice T Vinod Kumar, which admitted the petition of APGenco, issued notices to the Telangana principal secretary (energy), SPDCL, NPDCL, and Telangana power co-ordination committee, asking them to file counters. The case was adjourned to October 28 for further hearing.
Before the bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh, the two Discoms – SPDCL and NPDCL – located in Telangana region were drawing power from thermal power plants located in Andhra region, as per power purchase agreements (PPAs). Since the state was united, there were no payment issues.
“After the bifurcation, the power plants located in Andhra and Telangana regions were allocated to the respective states. However, the two Telangana Discoms continued to draw power from the thermal power plants located in Andhra as per the PPAs and as such, they were supposed to pay the power purchase charges, but had been avoiding the same,” APGenco chairman and managing director B Sreedhar told Hindustan Times.
After negotiations between the two states, he said, the two Telangana Discoms had paid bills to some extent till June 2017, but after that, they had stopped paying the dues altogether. “Everything is on paper – the power purchased by Telangana Discoms and the power purchase bills raised by APGenco. So, they cannot go back on payment of power bill arrears,” Sreedhar said.
In April 2019, APGenco approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking recovery of dues from Telangana, but withdrew the petition subsequently on technical grounds and now approached the Telangana high court.
State advocate general Subrahmanyam Sriram told the high court that the defaulting on clearing power bill arrears to the extent of over ₹6,283 crore by Telangana had severely affected the credit rating of the Andhra Pradesh electricity department, as it was not able to pay loans taken from the Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation, besides clearing dues to the fuel suppliers.
When contacted, chairman of Telangana power generation corporation (TS Genco) and Telangana power transmission corporation (TS Transco) D Prabhakar Rao said TSGenco was also due to get power bill arrears from Andhra Discoms, which continued to buy power from Telangana power plants after the bifurcation.
“After adjusting the dues from Andhra Discoms to TS Genco, the outstanding payables to APGenco by Telangana is around ₹4,887 crore including interest, and not ₹6,283 crore. It is an inter-state issue and can be settled through negotiations, instead of going to the court,” he said.
Rao pointed out that Telangana had several other receivables from Andhra Pradesh, such as debt servicing for the loans taken on Anantapur and Kurnool districts, interest payments on bonds and deposits, and share in inter-corporate deposits, among others.
“Taking all these receivables into account, Andhra Pradesh has to pay ₹4,457 crore to Telangana, after deducting the dues to be paid to it by Telangana Discoms,” the Telangana official said.
Reacting on Rao’s claims, APGenco MD said it was not proper for Telangana to link its claims to the dues to be paid to APGenco. “We are only asking our power bill arrears due from Telangana Discoms. If Telangana has other dues from Andhra, it can as well approach the court,” Sreedhar said.
TSGenco MD said all records would be placed before the court so that it would decide who was right and who was at fault.