Centre refuses to extend power reforms deadline

Shimla: Not convinced by the state governments proposal for extending the deadline for carrying out unbundling of state electricity board (HPSEB), the union power ministry has refused to grant any extension and has insisted that the state set up a transmission utility at the earliest, senior official disclosed.

However, chief secretary Asha Swaroop told My Himachal News, “We have put forward our case saying that the government intends to comply with the Electricity Act 2003 but need time till March 2009 to get our act together.”

Other officials privy to the meeting that was held with union power secretary on Monday revealed that the central ministry officials let state officials know that no extension had been granted to any state board in the country and it would not be possible to make an exception for Himachal.

“Officials of the central power ministry insisted that the state carry out the mandatory reforms and set up a transmission utility at the earliest so as to avail a transmission license that presently stands expired since July, 2008, “said the official.

Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal last week had stated that the government was trying to sort out the issue of unbundling of HPSEB to the satisfaction of employees and the governing laws. “Experiences in unbundling show that some state electricity boards have improved, where as some have gone worse,” Dhumal had said on the occasion.

It may be mentioned that HPSEB is in a dilemma after its transmission license stands expired, putting to risk all trading being done in the intervening period.

To obtain a breather, a high level delegation led by chief secretary Asha Swaroop and HPSEB chairman RK Jain met up with union power secretary on Monday seeking yet another deadline extension till March.

Unbundling of the board is being resisted by employee union and the government has failed to carry out dismantling of the utility into generation, transmission and distribution companies, despite having secured many extension periods to do so.

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