After controversy over the appointment of the same consultant at both UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) and Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) in power tariff revision, the two authorities are now mired in another dispute. The latest one involves engagement of an official at UPPCL to prepare the reply on a Raj Bhawan query seeking explanation from the state government on allegations that rules were flouted while devising the new power tariff.
The officer in question is director (commercial) Sanjay Singh, who has been asked to file a reply on behalf of the state government. Singh is an employee of UPERC but is on deputation at UPPCL, in what brings to the fore yet another conflict of interest.
On July 2, joint secretary in energy department, NH Rizvi, wrote to UPPCL managing director AP Mishra asking for a reply as required by Raj Bhawan on the tariff revision. Mishra marked the letter to Sanjay Singh, who has been a key official in devising the tariff at UPPCL.
While UPERC officials refused to come on record, documents accessed by TOI show that Singh was with UPERC until 2012 when he decided to go on a deputation to UPPCL. In September 2012, he was asked by the then UPERC chairman Rajesh Awasthi to "resign from UPERC before joining UPPCL". While Awasthi was later removed following a Supreme Court order on a PIL that challenged his appointment, Singh went on deputation to UPPCL for a period of three years. UPERC sources affirmed that Singh held the charge of director (legal and licensing). His charge is now being looked after by another official of the rank of director.
"The principal job of the commission is that of tariff fixation. Singh had experience of tariff while being in the commission. So, ideally he should not have been employed in devising tariff at UPPCL," sources at UPERC admitted.
A March 7 letter from UPPCL chief engineer Mohammad Gufran clearly shows that the tariff at UPPCL was decided under Singh's supervision.
In one of the review petitions filed in June, the UP Rajya Vidyut Upbhoghta Parishad too had alleged this was a flaw even as the tariff was being revised and a notification issued by the UPPCL. Following these allegations, Raj Bhawan has now demanded an explanation from the UP government. Sources said the reply may be sent to Raj Bhawan by next week after chief minister Akhilesh Yadav returns from vacation.
Last month, the Raj Bhawan had intervened in the matter of tariff fixation after the Upbhokta Pariashad had challenged the revision on the grounds that the methodology adopted was not as per the rules. That included the raging controversy over UPERC involving the same consultant who helped the UPPCL frame the tariff.
According to the petition filed with the Raj Bhawan, public hearing was not completed in all distribution companies when power tariff was drafted and brought into force. The distribution companies, where public hearings were not done, included Dakshinanchal and Poorvanchal. The petition also alleged that UPPCL pressurized the UPERC to declare the tariff on different occasions.