The proposed unbundling of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) into utility companies is likely to see the light of the day after a gap of exactly a decade since the act came into force. Decks for unbundling seems to have been cleared after the state cabinet gave its nod to the formation of four utility companies during the last cabinet meet.
However, this is not the first time that a cabinet decision has been taken for unbundling of the board into four companies. In 2006, the state government had gone to the extent of notifying the four companies and had also announced the names of the CMD and the MDs of all four companies but owing to the pressure from the coordination committee of JSEB engineers-officers-employees union, the decision was kept in abeyance.
The issue later reached court and was heard by the Jharkhand high court in connection with MS Mittal case of 2001. Though the high court ordered for unbundling it was finally stayed in 2007 by the apex court while hearing a special leave petition filed by the coordination committee.
One of the major hurdles in the path of unbundling had been the transfer scheme that preceded the process as per provisions of central electricity act. The coordination committee had objections to the transfer scheme prepared by SBI capital in 2006-07 because of which Power Finance Corporation (PFC) was finally entrusted with the job.
"PFC circulated a draft transfer scheme towards the end of 2012 which broadly addressed the concerns of the employees," said MP Yadav, former convener of the coordination committee who had raised the protests during previous attempt for unbundling. Asked if the coordination committee would once again protest the process, Yadav said since the issue of pension of retiring employees is going to be dealt by government and the companies which will be formed, the employees no longer have major objections.
Despite silence of the JSEB unions and groups that had protested earlier, one of the major challenges facing the department of power is arranging funds to bring the board to a zero loss balance sheet. Sources in the department said necessary arrangements are being made for funds so that the companies formed after unbundling start operating at zero loss.