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Strike cripples power supply in Jharkhand

Tapan Chakravorti/Kolkata/ Ranchi 07 Dec 12 | 12:29 AM

After signing of 15 years agreements by the Jharkhand government with Tata Power and Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) on Wednesday afternoon, the entire state plunged into darkness because of the indefinite strike called by all the nine unions of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB).

The member (distribution) CD Kumar told Business Standard this afternoon that earlier this month the Unions of the JSEB had given strike threat to the JSEB management but it did not happen.

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JSEB board under the leadership of the chairman S N Verma has done a blueprint to face the strike threat if takes place by the unions.

Thereafter, we prepared ourselves to face it and initiated talks with a number of power utilities and agencies in the country to face any strike situation, if arises, Kumar added.

Member (distribution) said people from power utilities and other agencies have started arriving at the trouble spots to tackle the situation. He was sure power position in the entire state would be normal from Friday.

Kumar said power distribution system in the steel city Jamshedpur has been badly affected. on Thursday.

However, the indefinite wildcat strike of the JSEB unions did not impact as much on the power supply on Wednesday night. But today the power supply in the entire state has been paralysed.

Member (distribution) said that after signing of the agreements with Tata Power and CESC on Wednesday, the state energy secretary V K Singh categorically told media that the agreements with the Tata Power and the CESC would not lead to privatisation of the JSEB.

The apprehension on the increase of power tariff for engaging the two agencies is totally baseless. The tariff rate is decided by the Jharkhand State Electricity Regularity Commission (JSERC) after going through public hearings and discussions with various establishments of the state, the state energy secretary added.

Member (distribution) said that with the engagement of Tata Power and CESC, both the consumers and the JSEB would be benefited much. JSEB’s revenue would be increased by decreasing power transmission losses as well as timely collection of electricity dues from the consumers, Besides, consumers grievances and complaints would be timely attended by the frachisees.

The striking employees gathered outside the secretariat building where the agreements were signed. They shouted slogans against handing over power distribution from the power board to private power utilities.The police dispersed the agitators from the spot.

JSEB chairman S N Verma said the wildcat strike by a section of employees was “illegal". He informed the police to tackle the unruly behaviour of the striking unions.

The agreements between the state government and the two power utilities (Tata Power and CESC) were signed in presence of the chief minister Arjun Munda. On behalf of the state government, the energy secretary Vimal Kirti Singh signed the agreement.

On behalf of the Tata Power, senior general manager V Singla signed the agreement. From the CESC’s side the agreement was signed by its managing director Dilip Singh and executive director R Banerjee.

After signing agreements, the energy secretary told media that both the power utilities (Tata Power.and CESC) would start functioning within next three months .He said the steps taken by the government in handing over the power distribution system to two private agencies would be beneficial both for the consumers and the state power board (JSEB). The steps taken by the government in handing over the power distribution services to the Tata Power and the CESC should not be considered as a move towards privatisation.

Energy secretary said that with handing over the services to the two power agencies, the revenue of the JSEB would be increased by eliminating illegal power connections and power thefts that were being done with manipulation of the metres by a section of consumers.

An official of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) said CESC will have to do lot of works, like setting up of office establishments before introducing the services in Ranchi. However, Tata Power will not face any difficulty in introducing the services in Jamshedpur as it has required infrastructures that needed for power distribution related works, he added.

Several consumers when contacted by Business Standard expressed satisfaction over the agreements signed with the Tata Power and CESC.

They said that were frustrated with the services of the JSEB for the last ten years.

They further said the state had received fourteen chairmen within last eleven years and most of them were appointed from bureaucrats. The consumers of the JSEB were not received their due services from the state power board. JSEB’s services to consumers started deterioration since the constitution of the board in 2001.

The lapses in the power board was due to frequent changes of the chairmen and board members.The present chairman S N Verma is the 15th chairman of the JSEB and he joined hardly a year ago on deputation from Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited. After his joining consumers were receiving some services from the power board, they said.

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