The LDF government has instructed the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC) to simplify the procedure for releasing electricity connections.
In a rare move, the government has employed Section 108 of the Electricity Act to issue the instructions, amply indicating its decision to end its silence on the bitter stand-off between the commission and the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) over multiple issues, including long-term power purchase deals and power tariff.
In a September 20 letter to the commission, the Additional Chief Secretary (Power) has asked the quasi-judicial body to "re-work" its Kerala Electricity Supply Code in the light of a Union Power Ministry directive seeking a much simpler, three-step process to release industrial and commercial connections. Besides, simpler procedures are also key to the success of the state government goal to provide electricity for all by March 2017, the letter said. Existing supply code guidelines specify "time-consuming manual procedures and entails multiple visits" to KSEB offices, the letter said.
Among other things, the government wants the commission to incorporate simpler application formats, create an online facility for filing applications and making payments, and to reduce the number of documents to two: 'proof of identity and proof of ownership/legal occupancy' instead of the seven required at present.
Only rarely has the state government used Section 108 in this manner, power department sources said. The last time it was done was by the previous LDF government when it directed the commission to accommodate the cross-subsidy component to keep power tariffs low. While the government has cited 'public interest' in issuing the instructions, top power sector officials said that it in reality shows the government's resolve to use Section 108 if needed. This section makes it clear that the commission would be guided by government directives in matters of policy involving public interest. In the event of a dispute, the government decision will prevail, it says.The KSEB and the commission headed by T M Manoharan have been at loggerheads over a host of issues in recent months. Blaming the KSEB for not filing proposals on time, the commission had launched its own measures to fix power tariff for the current year. The KSEB has contested the move. A commission directive to release open access facility to industrial consumers had not gone down down well with the KSEB. In the latest instance, the commission had set aside a major chunk of various power purchase deals which the KSEB had entered into, saying that they had not conformed to central guidelines.
Source- Indian Express