Patiala, February 25
THE UNION Power Ministry has granted extension to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for unbundling till June 15.
The previous deadline expired on November 30 last year. Since then, the board has been operating as “a non-functional entity”, with the Union government pressing the state government to implement unbundling.
The extension came after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal took up the matter with the Power Ministry. The SAD-BJP government, like the erstwhile Congress government in the state, is reportedly reluctant to implement unbundling, particularly in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
The PSEB’s legal status has remained untenable since the expiry of the deadline.
Experts have questioned the appointment of the new chairman by the government and also raised doubts over all decisions taken during this period.
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) refused to take up the tariff revision petition moo by the PSEB and asked the latter to clarify its legal status. The board had replied that extension from the Union government was awaited.
Now, with extension granted to the state government, decks have been cleared to get the tariff revised.
Due to non-implementation of unbundling, the board has been missing out on Central grants for various projects.
At one stage, the erstwhile Congress government almost decided to implement unbundling, but it backed out after a study conducted by Ernst and Young showed huge financial liabilities in the financial restructuring plan (FRP) report and pointed out that these were to be paid by the state government to give a clean balance sheet to companies after implementation.
This is the 10th occasion when the state government has been granted extension since the Electricity Act 2003 came into force. All states were given one-year time from June 2003 to implement unbundling. Though a number of states did the needful, several others have dilly-dallied on the matter.
The Himachal Pradesh government, which made it clear that it would not go ahead with unbundling, has also been given extension till June 15. The state’s deadline had expired in July-end last year.