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Flaws in Govt approach hit APDCL functioning

By Ajit Patowary

GUWAHATI, Nov 6 - The Assam Government is clueless on running the State�s power sector as a self-sustaining, efficient one, enabling it to provide round-the-clock quality power supply.

There is not much stress on generating power, which would have reduced the transmission charges and the transmission and distribution (T&D) losses remarkably.

Moreover, the issue of coal linkage for the proposed Margherita thermal plant is yet to be taken up in the right earnest.

These were assertions made by sources in the Association of Engineers, Assam State Electricity Board (AoE ASEB). Sources lamented that such flaws in the government approach have made the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) the worst victim, which is sure to have an adverse impact on the other two power utilities in the conduit.

The APDCL, which is the end conduit of the three State-controlled power utilities � the Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL), the Assam Electricity Grid Corporation Ltd (AEGCL) and the APDCL, in taking power to the State�s consumers, is now incurring an annual loss of around Rs 600 crore, at an average monthly rate of Rs 50 crore. Due to the apathetic attitude of the government, the APDCL has emerged as a top heavy organization.

The State Government is yet to honour the terms and conditions agreed upon while signing the tripartite agreement in 2003 on power reforms. It was agreed then that a selection board would be set up to select the board of directors, including the managing directors of the three power utilities � APGCL, AEGCL and APDCL.

But now, the directors are appointed on considerations other than the professional ones. Even the MDs, who are the chief executive officers of these power utilities, are being appointed whimsically.

For a period of about two months recently, the APDCL MD was on leave and the AEGCL MD was made to look after the APDCL affairs as an ad hoc arrangement. This did not bode well for both the power utilities.

Now, the APDCL MD, who is an IAS officer, is again on leave, and an ad hoc arrangement has been made to run the APDCL affairs with the temporary appointment of another IAS officer. Significantly, this IAS officer is also holding a key post in a major department, said the AoE ASEB sources.

The government has also asked the Chief Engineer, Rural Electrification of the APDCL to function as the acting MD of AEGCL, following the retirement of the AEGCL MD on October 31 last.

The APDCL has no proper human resource development (HRD) policy. Its fresh employees and engineers are not trained and this has a demoralizing effect on the fresh recruits of the company and it has emerged as a cause of electrical accidents.

There is a nexus of a section of top officials with some big contractors, which governs the courses of awarding the contracts for executing the APDCL schemes.

Promotions in the APDCL are also not equitable. �Right man in right place� policy is ignored here. Moreover, the field level people of the power company are not involved in the implementation of the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (RAPDRP), Rural Electrification Scheme, etc.

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