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Paying for sins of the past...

Out of 55,000MW of power capacity added during the eleventh plan, TN accounted for a mere 842 MW.

THE STATE THAT accounts for 8.5 per cent of the nation’s capacity and consumption of power had accounted for a mere 1.6 per cent of capacity addition, pointed out Anil Razdan, former Union Secretary of Power, Oil and Natural Gas.

For nearly a decade, IE has been pointing to the neglect of the power sector that has landed the state in the crisis today. Outside Chennai metro, the state suffers power cuts up to 16 hours, crippling industrial and agricultural production. Even within the metro there is a scheduled two hour power cut daily apart from unscheduled outages and dips in voltage. 

Razdan pointed to inadequate additions to create fresh power capacity even during the twelfth plan: against plans to add 90,000MW all over India, Tamil Nadu is working on an addition of mere 4891 MW(5.4 per cent). 

Where is the private sector?

Yet another fact of concern is the absence of private sector in power generation in the state. Razdan mentioned: “against 16,732 MW of capacity added by the private sector across the country during the eleventh plan, Tamil Nadu’s share was a mere 92 MW.” The reasons are understandable: the off repeated boast of the DMK supremo, M Karunanidhi, of his leftist leanings; a more valid cause is the extremely bad state of the electricity board’s finances that results in delays, of around 15 months and more, to settle bills on power delivered by power producers, mostly through wind mills.  

Former Chairman and Managing Director of NTPC and President of India Energy Forum, P S Bami provided a comprehensive picture of the power scenario of the country. He described the power position of the state as very bad and pointed to the losses suffered by electricity board shooting up from Rs 1219 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 27,719 crore for the year ended March 2011. “the net worth has become negative. The expenditure incurred on power purchase is more than its revenue and loans have been mounting. Even the audited statements of the board are not available for the last two years,” he pointed out. R Raghuttama Rao, Managing Director, ICRA Management Consulting Services, K V Rangaswami, Advisor to Chairman, L&T and S Kabilan, former Chairman, Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission who addressed the seminar on TN power dynamics and future prospects, referred to the different aspects of the current crisis. Understandably, TN Minister of Electricity who was listed to participate and officials from the government and the electricity board were absent. 

While the meet provided a picture on the crisis, there was not much discussion on the way forward. 

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