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Monday, September 11, 2006

Don't dismantle SEBs, says expert

The former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, M.R. Srinivasan, argued against dismantling the State Electricity Boards and called for reforming them into professional and commercial entities.

Delivering his keynote address at a seminar on "Review of Electricity Act-2003 for protecting electricity boards from un-bundling and privatisation" on Saturday, Dr. Srinivasan said: "We should also consolidate the public sector which, in any case, has played a pioneering role in building power sector to the present position." The seminar was organised by the Electricity Employees Federation of India, the Central Organisation of Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees and the Tamil Nadu Power Engineers' Organisation.

Pointing out that the Boards were subjected to constant political and bureaucratic pressures, Dr. Srinivasan said: "If the SEBs had been allowed to function in an autonomous, commercial and technical environment, we would not be having the situation we have been experiencing for the past few decades."

In the approach paper to the Eleventh Plan, he explained, it had been assumed that the only way theft and losses could be eliminated was by entrusting distribution to the private sector.

While this could be one way, there was no reason to assume that the public sector distribution companies cannot achieve these results.

Referring to the electricity generation situation in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Srinivasan suggested expansion of lignite-based generation in the Neyveli region; coal-based generation with imported coal, if necessary, at Tuticorin; LNG generation at Ennore; if an LNG terminal came there, natural gas-based generation at Ennore if gas was piped in from the Krishna-Godavari basin and additional nuclear power units at Kundankulam. "While Tamil Nadu is presently surplus in generation, it must not become complacent. It is well poised to act as supplier of electricity to Karnataka and Kerala on a long-term basis."

Dr. Srinivasan also spoke of the high quality of the technical manpower of the SEBs.

"They must acquire new skills and specialisation as the technology was improving. They must ensure that the investments made in the power sector yielded the best results and the assets were maintained in top condition. We must also create opportunities for constant upgradation of the skills and expertise of the engineers and technicians in the power sector," he added.

Source: The Hindu

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