New Delhi, Feb 2: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has criticized power distribution firms for announcing power cuts on the plea of lack of funds, saying the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report would ascertain the exact status on the lack of funds as stated by Reliance-controlled discoms-BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd.
The Anil Ambani-backed BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. Discom BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL) had warned that it would be forced to resort to daily power cuts of up to 10 hours from February because it has no funds to pay public sector generation units for power supplies.
The central utility NTPC has, however, given the Reliance discoms ten days reprieve to pay up the next ten days, or face blackout.
The NTPC says while BSES Rajdhani has not maintained a letter of credit of Rs. 271 crore, which is needed to get supply of power from its power stations, BYPL has an outstanding of Rs. 179 crore.
If the companies are not able to settle their dues within the stipulated time, it could lead to lengthy power cuts in East and Central Delhi.
Warning of strict action, including possible cancellation of licenses, Kejriwal said: “They are saying they don’t have funds. Where did all the money go? CAG audit will tell us where the money went. Let us wait for the report.”
Kejriwal had accused the BSES discoms of trying to blackmail the state government by threatening to go for power cuts of up to ten hours a day.
The Delhi Government’s decision to initiate a CAG audit of private power distribution companies has put the discoms in a tight spot.
This strong-arm intimidating tactics by BSES discoms is bound to leave the people of Delhi suffering, and they have expressed fears about facing the possibility of regular power cuts.
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. have already manifested a loss of composure over Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s stern posture.
It is reported that they have been buying “excess” power and selling it at a low price, thereby reporting huge losses and resulting in a preventable tariff burden on consumers.
The Aam Aadmi Party is alleging irregularities in the process and some consumers in Delhi are raising serious questions about the integrity of the Anil Ambani-controlled discoms and are feeling hard done by.
Interestingly, former DERC chairman, Brijender Singh, has alleged that “discoms in Delhi can allegedly make a profit of Rs 3,577 crore per year through the sale of such surplus power”.
The discoms’ request for a stay order against the January 7 decision of the Aam Aadmi Party-led government ordering a CAG audit has already been rejected.
The Delhi High Court refused to stay the city government’s decision, asking the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to audit the accounts of the companies that distribute electricity in the capital.
Justice Mammohan, during a hearing, interestingly remarked, “Whenever you hear cases related to these discoms, you find that everything is in mess.”
Anil Ambani-backed Rajdhani Power Ltd. and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd., which supplies power in 70 per cent of the areas of Delhi, has claimed that the top auditor is not empowered to scrutinise accounts of private companies, in which the government has a 49 per cent stake.
Senior advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for the CAG, said the CAG’s statutory jurisdiction is separate and undisputed, and added that its sole responsibility was to seek appropriate and relevant accounting and audit information from the discoms, and nothing could prevent it from doing so.
He further said that the CAG will give its report as per schedule, and it is for the government to act on it.
More than three years ago, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had written to the government that there have been numerous allegations from various sectors that these discoms have been fudging their accounts.
Earlier this month, the Delhi Government warned the discoms that their licenses could be cancelled if they do not cooperate with the CAG in audit.
The BRPL owes USD 770 million in late payments to more than a dozen power utilities.
Two of these, Pragati Power Corporation Limited (PPCL) and Indraprastha Power Generation Company Limited (IPGCL), have threatened BRPL with an ultimatum to either pay up or lose the power.
Another project, the Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd (DAMEPL), a subsidiary of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infrastructure, was mired in controversy over repayment of loans taken for the Delhi Airport Metro Line project, and was under public and government scrutiny.
Back in 2010-11, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd was accused of allegedly fudging accounts by an NGO. The NGO Chetna had alleged that BRPL came out with two balance sheets-one showing profit to get loans from banks and the other reflecting losses to get power tariffs increased by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Both BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd., under the chairmanship of Anil Ambani, had begun its operations in 2002 when the then Delhi government decided to privatise power distribution in the national capital. (ANI)