SHILLONG, May 4 � With a view to bail out the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) from its severe financial crisis, the Meghalaya Government has decided to form a corpus fund.
Announcing the decision, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that the MeECL could make use of the fund and invest in business plans and stay competitive in the market. �The fund from the corpus could be used by the MeECL and invest in new business ventures,� the Chief Minister said. The corpus would be created and managed by the State Power department. Sangma, however, did not say how much fund the Government would put in the corpus initially.
The MeECL is in urgent need of fund to the tune of Rs 379 crore to pay arrear bills to power companies such as NEEPCO. The non-payment of this debt has resulted in power companies refusing to sell power to the Corporation and therefore there have been load sheddings in the entire State ranging from nine to 12 hours daily.
Negotiations are on in New Delhi between officials from the Centre, State Power department and NEEPCO to provide interim relief to the people of the State. NEEPCO wants the State to pay three more instalments, apart from Rs 30 crore which the Government has promised to pay now.
Apart from the debt, the MeECL has not been able to present its complete audit so that it could be presented to the Union Power Ministry and seek grant under the Financial Restructuring Plan.
Sangma said that the Corporation must work on these pending issues and try to make a turn around and start making profit on its business. One of the other factors affecting the MeECL is billing the consumers, which has been erratic.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister said that the State must get over its complete reliance on hydel power projects and the Power department should also concentrate in developing thermal power plants.
In fact, Meghalaya has a coal reserve of 640 million tonnes. However, this coal reserve has not been utilised for building power projects as the coal has high sulphur content and is not ideal for power projects. But experts have now pointed out means to remove the sulphur content from the coal for use in power projects.
Sangma said that the Power department has been asked to �urgently prepare proposals� for developing thermal, solar and bio-mass power projects.