Sunday 15 September 2019

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Infrastructure | Power

High court bans power connections

 

The honeymoon of ambitious industrialists with the tourist state of Goa is now over. It is just impossible to set up any new unit or start a new business here, thanks to the interim order passed by the Mumbai high court.

Reacting to two public interest litigations filed by citizens, the Goa bench of Mumbai high court has banned release of fresh power to any unit, except domestic consumer, besides total ban on illumination anywhere in the state.

Strictures have also been passed on the power ministry, headed by Congress minister Mauvin Godinho, for gross misuse of power in granting electricity connections to the industrial units.

Pending further hearing, the Congress government has been directed to file a detailed affidavit on the action initiated for proper distribution and control of power supply in the state.

The court intervention has come as a sigh of relief to the locals as well as the tourists since the whole state is presently facing a low voltage problem as low as 150 KV, besides unannounced blackouts and load shedding for long intervals.

The sudden crisis has erupted primarily because of underhand dealings by the authorities in releasing connections to over 50 power guzzling units including steel and Ferro alloy, much beyond the power capacity the tourist state is having.

While Goa can wheel maximum 190 MW of power from the NTPC power stations, its present unrestricted requirement is around 250 MW. Without bothering about such an alarming situation, the concerned departments have also sanctioned total 450 MW of power to the industries.

The reason seems to simple. While the five-year tax holiday facility ended on 31st March this year, the industries also get sales tax exemption and the power is comparatively much cheaper in Goa.

To avail the facilities, hordes of industries started production by March end, adding to power crisis. Besides 55 old large industries the tiny state had, 58 new units came to Goa to avail the five-year tax holiday, since 1993.

Due to power shortage, 163 large and medium scale industries are still waiting for power connection though it has been sanctioned to them on paper. The only option they are left with is to either set up their own captive power plant or shift elsewhere.

Godinho, the state power minister, is also presently facing a corruption charge of around Rs 100 crore for modifying a notification which was actually rescinded earlier, allowing power subsidy to the power guzzling units by categorising them as extra high tension units.

Though the police have registered an FIR against the minister, based on a complaint filed by BJP MLA Manohar Parrikar, investigations are moving at snails pace, raising serious doubts whether it would be completed before next Assembly polls, slated to be held in December 1999.

The government has also released high tension connections much beyond the state's capacity. It has now increased to 220 MW in last three years while Goa can wheel altogether 190 MW of power for the whole state.

Power theft has also become rampant, especially in the coastal belt, in connivance with the departmental engineers which mainly benefits the hotels and restaurants. It is now estimated at around 32 per cent.

But there seems to be no immediate plans to overcome the situation, except a 40 MW private power plant which is expected to be commissioned in August. Several other plans are being chalked out, but would not be completed before 2000.






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