GUWAHATI, May 27 - The round-the-clock supply of power pledged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the hustings during the elections to the State Assembly has now seemed to be another jhumla (gimmickry), said power experts here.
The State now purchases power at the rate of around 1200 MW per day, with its own generation capacity restricted to only around 250 MW a day. The gap between its monthly earning and expenditure ranges between Rs 25 crore and Rs 30 crore.
Experts here maintain that a concrete plan and programme of the State Government to attain the above goal is still absent. Last year, it was observed that there was no full-time managing director (MD) of any of the three power utilities of the State at various points of time. The Assam Electricity Grid Corporation Ltd (AEGCL) is yet to get a full-time MD since October 31, 2016, when the then incumbent of the post retired.
After retirement of the previous full-time MD in Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL) on January 31 this year, it is still without a full-time MD. In the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL), frequent changes of MDs are occurring in the past few months. It is yet to get a full-time MD.
As power is a very crucial sector with lots of complexities, there should have been technocrats at the helm of affairs of the three power utilities. But in the board of directors of the APGCL and AEGCL, the chief engineers (acting MDs in-charge) are the only technical directors. Surprisingly, there is not a single technocrat in the board of directors of the APDCL.
In the Memorandum and Articles of Association of these three utilities, there was a provision for constitution of a selection committee for selecting the board of directors. But it is seen that the parties in the State’s power always prefer an IAS officer as CMD or MD of the APDCL whenever a vacancy occurs, without bothering to constitute the selection committee.
The Memorandum of Association also stipulated that the chairperson and MD shall be appointed for a term of five years. But frequent changes of chairman and MD have led to a situation where formulation of a long-term mission and vision of the company is totally impossible. As, these IAS officers had no previous exposure to the power sector and they stay for a very short period in an ad hoc basis in APDCL, said the experts.
The absence of technocrats in the APDCL board of directors has also resulted in the absence of technical supervision necessary for the plans and programmes of the APDCL, which is a techno-commercial entity.
The BJP Vision Document also speaks of large-scale deployment of solar power panels in the State. There are two nodal agencies for the development of solar power in the State, namely the Renewable Energy Wing under APDCL and the Assam Energy Development Agency.
Both the entities could not put on the required thrust for faster development of solar power in the State due to absence of strong leadership. Few states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are developing solar power faster than Assam in spite of the fact that the Central subsidy to the northeastern states is 70 per cent for rooftop solar compared to the 30 per cent in the other states, said the experts.
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