Odisha Power distribution companies (discoms) want to impose a surcharge on consumers for creating dedicated funds to face natural disasters.
In their proposals of annual revenue requirement for 2016-17 submitted before the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), the discoms suggested creation of such funds for them individually to face cyclones and floods. According to statutory norms, OERC decides teh power tariff every year after hearing the presentations of the discoms, bulk power supplier Gridco and consumers.
The Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) wants to create a Rs 60 crore contingency fund, North Eastern Electricity Supply Company of Odisha (Nesco) wants a fund of Rs 5.09 crore, Western Electricity Supply Company of Odisha (Wesco) demands Rs 4.07 crore and Southern Electricity Supply Company Of Odisha (Southco) Rs 3.04 crore towards facing exigencies.
Nesco, Wesco and Southco demanded a contingency at the rate 0.375% of their gross fixed assets.
"To expedite restoration work without waiting for the government assistance, it is proposed to create a disaster management fund to the tune of Rs 60 crore by levying 1% surcharge on energy charges for the coming two years. This surcharge will be lifted once the requisite fund is created," CESU told OERC in its plea. Justifying the surcharge, CESU said it was facing natural calamities often. However, due to its poor financial health, restoration work is getting delayed.
CESU has around 18 lakh customers, including 88 per cent domestic customers in the nine districts of Cuttack, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Nayagarh, Khurda, Dhenkanal and Angul.
The discoms sought a Contingency Reserve Fund on the argument that Odisha was prone to natural calamities at regular intervals having witnessed 49 floods, 39 droughts and 11 cyclones over the last 100 years. The OERC can issue guidelines for use of such fund, they said.
Seeking Rs 3.04 crore towards provision for contingency for the financial year 2016-17, Southco said its power distribution network had suffered the most damage in cyclone Phailin, Hud Hud and subsequent floods.
Taking almost a similar stand, Nesco and Wesco submitted that the distribution system is more prone to natural calamities such as cyclone and floods, which have become an annual feature given Phailin and Hud Hud in quick succession. Nesco asked for Rs 5.09 crore while Wesco sought Rs 4.07 crore.
Power consumers said the discoms' demand was not justified. "The discoms want to loot consumers in the name of disaster funds. They don't need any such fund because their damages in disasters are covered by National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)," said Rabi Behera, convenor, Odisha Rajya Vidyut Upavokta Mahasangha.