PSPCL likely to chargesheet officials for claiming excess power subsidy
Inquiry to identify erring officials underway after addl chief secy (power) writes to sector regulator that 40% divisions claimed agri pumpset consumption more than actual pumped energypunjab Updated: May 22, 2018 10:35 IST
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) is contemplating to chargesheet its officials and engineers for allegedly fudging figures after the additional chief secretary (power) pointed out that the corporation claimed ₹7,000 extra subsidy for free electricity to farmers for running tubewells since 2010.
A PSPCL official said an internal inquiry is already underway to identify the officials involved in the malpractice.
The corporation claimed 43% more subsidy in 2014-15, the highest figure in percentage terms in a given year, it has been alleged.
In a letter to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) last month, additional chief secretary (power) Satish Chandra said, “It is a matter of concern that as many as 40% PSPCL divisions have claimed agriculture pumpset consumption more than the actual pumped energy”.
There are a total of 98 divisions through which the corporation manages electricity distribution in the state.
“As can be seen from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 tariff orders, the PSPCL claimed excess pumped energy to the extent of 35% and 43%,” Chandra pointed out, asking the regulator to mete out exemplary punishment to the officials who fudged figures.
Similarly, in the 2015-16 financial year, the excess subsidy claimed was 26%.
“It is the duty of PSPCL to take action against the wrongdoers. Our job is to ascertain annual tariff and flag contentious issues. Yes, the practice of converting transmission and distribution (T&D) losses into agriculture consumption that has been going on for years needs to be checked,” said a senior PSERC functionary on condition of anonymity.
Chandra in the letter to PSERC said PSPCL has been erroneously claiming that agriculture pumpset feeder meters were faulty whereas on checking it was found that meters were in a perfect working condition.
“Moreover there is little chance of high accuracy AMR feeder meters not working. Corporation officials have been willfully claiming excess power subsidy,” he pointed out.
HT last week had reported that PSPCL has been shifting the load of the free power it supplies to 14 lakh agriculture tubewells in the state into T&D losses, on the basis of the PSERC tariff order findings for the 2018-19 financial year.
The report mentioned that the power utility availed of extra subsidy for nearly 2,000 million units worth ₹1,000 crore every year from 2010 to 2017, costing the state exchequer around ₹7,000 crore.
In the midst of a poor fiscal health, the state government is finding it difficult to pay for power subsidy to farmers. The government has to pay ₹10,000 crore dues to the corporation.
“We are seized of the matter and are looking into the gaps,” said PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director A Venu Prasad who took charge last year.