Stating that he was a supporter of hydro-electric projects for Kerala, Mr. Mohammed said Kerala could progress only through the commissioning of more such projects. He suggested that an all-party meeting could address the issue and with the consensus arrived at such a meeting, the State could approach the Centre. "If there is unity in Kerala for hydel power projects, permission can be obtained," he said.
By 2020-2021, the power requirement of the State would touch 6,000 MW. With strong opposition to the Cheemeni thermal power project from all sections in Kasaragod district, that project had been shelved. If the proposed thermal plant in Baitharani, Orissa, too failed by any chance, the State would have no other go but to depend on the costly power from the National Thermal Power Corporation.
In spite of the State's poor power position, the electricity tariff here had not been increased since 2003. But the general concept that power tariff should not be raised should change. While the KSEB's annual revenue stood at Rs.5,000 crore, its expenditure touched Rs.7,800 crore. More than Rs.3,000 crore was spent for purchase of power from outside, Mr. Mohammed said.
The Minister said he could in no way vouch that the KSEB would become a profit- making organisation. But it should at least be a financially viable organisation. The power consumption of the State was increasing at the rate of 10 per cent annually. But there was no corresponding increase in power generation in the State. "At present, we are generating only 40 per cent of our power requirement," he said.
The net loss of the KSEB this year was Rs.1,200 crore. This was poised to go up further. In spite of all this, Kerala was among the few States in the country where load-shedding or power holiday had not been imposed. He said that under the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme, underground cabling for power distribution was being augmented with the aim of reducing power interruptions.
KSEBOA president K.A. Sivadasan presided over the meeting. Former minister P.K. Gurudasan, MLA, spoke. Mayor Prasanna Earnest, who is the chairperson of the conference reception committee, welcomed the gathering. A women's conference that followed was inaugurated by All India Democratic Women's Organisation general secretary Sudha Sundararaman.