The CPI(M) in Odisha has alleged that the proposed disconnection drive to collect dues by power utilities — SOUTHCO and NESCO — from February 16 is part of a plan to auction the two to private companies in the near future.
SOUTHCO and NESCO have taken this decision after a similar measure by the CESU, another power distribution utility of the State. State CPI(M) secretary Ali Kishor Patnaik said, “CESU has already been auctioned to Tata Power. It seems the government wants to please and attract the corporate houses to take over the other discoms — SOUTHCO, NESCO, WESCO — by collecting the arrears before initiating the auctioning process.”
As per reports, NESCO has arrears of over ₹1,526 crore in five north-eastern districts, while SOUTHCO has around ₹1,357 crore dues in eight southern districts. Meanwhile, CESU has collected over ₹61.4 crore and disconnected power supply to 18,730 consumers till January 31.
‘Govt. dues higher’
Odisha CPI(M) has decided to oppose this exploitation. “The government agencies and private companies have large power dues. If the power utilities start harassing the general public by threatening disconnection in stead of collecting dues from the government and private companies, a strong people’s resistance will be built in Odisha,” said Mr. Patnaik.
He also alleged that the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) has failed to safeguard the interests of power consumers. According to State CPI(M), Odisha was the first State to go for privatisation in 1996, but has not learnt from past, while several other States are still not adopting the Odisha model.
The CESU, earlier known as CESCO, was managed by American company AES, which withdrew from the CESCO in 2001. In 2005, OERC cancelled its license but dues could not be collected from AES, said Mr. Patnaik.