Jolted by a rooftop solar power project scam, the Karnataka government on 06-07-2016 ordered the suspension of nine executive engineers from three electricity supply companies for having executed fake power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Briefing reporters here, power minister D K Shivakumar said: "These engineers have worked with malafide intentions to help some land developers and private power producers, they have worked against the interests of the electricity supply companies (Escoms). Their actions defeat the objectives of the Karnataka Solar Policy 2014-21." This is, perhaps,for the first time that so many senior officials in the Escoms have been suspended.
The solar policy, which envisages a minimum of 400MW grid-connected rooftop solar generation projects by 2018, allows solar power generation atop residential, commercial and industrial buildings. But hints of a scam in rooftop solar projects surfaced three months ago when a few discrepancies were detected by the departmental honchos.
Shivakumar said there were violations on 12 counts. Though rules make it clear that power should be sourced from generations plants installed on the rooftops of buildings, Shivakumar said the executive engineers had signed PPAs for open lands, non-existent buildings and against the consumer RR (revenue register) numbers of some other buildings. They have also signed PPAs for buildings that are yet to be constructed and for structures that have no RR numbers.
The engineers who have been suspended are M R Ramesh of Chikkaballapur, K L Lokesh of KGF, B V Jagdish of Hiriyur, K H Guruswamy of Madhugiri, H Krishnappa of Haveri, Shivanna Gowda R Patil of Bagalkot, D H Umesh of Gadag, D Mahesh of Koppal and Basappa K Pattanashetty of Sindhanur.
Shivakumar said a team of technical officers has been directed to conduct a thorough investigation and the probability of a few more suspensions is high in the near future. The quantum of financial loss is also being ascertained. "We feel that 90 per cent of the PPAs are dubious," Shivakumar added.