Power firm invokes bank guarantees of Rs 48 crore

Patna: In order to speed up the execution of its various works, Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited (BSPHCL) has penalized three companies and 10 suppliers by invoking their bank guarantees amounting to over Rs 48 crore for their ‘slow’ and ‘tardy’ work in implementing various ongoing power- related projects. The BSPHCL has invoked the bank guarantee amount of over Rs 3 crore of 10 suppliers alone for inordinate delay in supplying electrical equipment.

During a series of review meetings of the South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (SBPDCL) recently, all these companies/supplier firms were warned against the inordinate delay in executing their work, but these firms failed to meet the deadline, said BSPHCL spokesman H R Pandey.

The decision to invoke their bank guarantee amounts was jointly taken by BSPHCL chairman cum MD Pratayaya Amrit and SBPDCL MD Palka Sahni. “This is just a wake-up call for these companies/supplier firms; if they fail to improve, the BSPHCL management will blacklist and debar them for any kind future contract,” CMD Amrit said at a review meeting.

BSPHCL spokesman Pandey said the bank guarantees of three companies namely M/s Supreme & Company Private Limited and M/s Utkal Galvanisers Limited (Rs 6.43 crore) and ECI Engineering & Construction (Rs 38.67 crore) were invoked.

The 10 penalized supplier firms are: East India Udyog (Rs 63.76 lakh), Modern Transformer (Rs 34.73 lakh), Shiv Sai Metal (Rs 73.14 lakh), Accurate Transformer (Rs 13.23 lakh), Rakshan Transformer (Rs 19.86 lakh), Lakshmi Transformer (Rs 25.32 lakh), LD Transformer (Rs 30.10 lakh), STS Utility Services (Rs 7.59 lakh), Sai Nath (Rs 11.80 lakh), Sri Ganpati (Rs 39.69 lakh), Pandey told TOI. In total, BSPHCL has invoked bank guarantees worth Rs 48.29 crore.

It was found at the review meetings that power related work was delayed in some parts of the state due to non-supply of equipment and transformers. The supplier firms had not bothered to meet the deadline despite repeated reminders, said an official. The action was urgently needed to speed up works to meet the deadline in the SBPDCL region.

Courtesy: TNN

West Patna mayface power woes

Patna: Residents living in the western parts of the city may have to bear with severe power problem for about a week due to a major fault cropping up in the 132KV Khagaul-Digha cable, 1.5km south of Bailey Road, adversely affecting power transmission to the areas being fed power through the 132/133KV grid sub- station, Digha.

These parts plunged into power crisis on Friday afternoon after the Digha grid substation went kaput following damages to the cable. The worst-hit were areas were Patliputra Colony, North S K Puri, Boring Road, East Boring Canal Road, West Boring Canal Road, Nehru Nagar, Digha, Kurji, Rajiv Nagar, Buddha Colony, Anandpuri, Indrapuri, Shivpuri and Rajapur Pul.

Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited CMD Pratyay Amrit told reporters here on Saturday that damage control operations were already in full swing and alternative arrangements were also being made.

Technical experts of the South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited could not give a specific reply when the power supply situation would turn normal. Even Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking GM (transmission) Arun Kumar Sinha said, “We are on the job”. Considering the ongoing monsoon, authorities are trying their level best to protect the damaged cables so that water does not seep in and causes further damage.

This is the third time during last six months that the double-circuit cable of Digha grid got damaged. The first damage happened in December 2013 and then in March 2014 due to the ongoing construction work on Bailey Road. This time also, it was Gammon India which damaged the cable, said sources in South Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd.

Courtesy: TNN

Showcause notices to13 power engineers soon

Patna: State’s energy secretary-cum-CMD, Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited, Pratyaya Amrit on Saturday reprimanded 13 engineers of the South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (SBPDCL) for their failure to ensure repair of faulty transformers within the stipulated period. He also ordered to stop salaries of four executive engineers as they failed to meet the target of revenue collection in June, 2014.

Amrit was reviewing works of the SBPDCL’s field officers through video conferencing. Sources said the energy secretary became furious when he came to know that some engineers were not ensuring repair of faulty transformers within the timeframe fixed by the distribution company. He called for identifying all such officers.

“On the directive of the energy secretary, 13 such engineers – three of them executive engineers, five assistant engineers and five junior engineers – were identified. They will soon be served show-cause notices,” DGM (public relations) Hare Ram Pandey said on Saturday. Pandey, however, could not provide the names of erring engineers.

During the review, it was also found that executive engineers of Sheikhpura, Patna rural, Rajgir and Nawada had failed to meet the target of revenue collection. Amrit asked the SBPDCL’s managing director R Lakshmanan, who was present at the videoconference, to immediately stop salaries of these four executive engineers. He also ordered for initiating departmental proceedings against the four officers.

Amrit also expressed his displeasure over fall in revenue collection in June 2014 and asked the field officers to do hard work to meet the target of revenue collection in July, 2014. The revenue target for July, 2014 was also explained to all executive engineers.

Courtesy: TNN

Power plays truant in Gaya

Gaya: With power availability hovering between 0-18 MW for the better part of Friday and Saturday against the requirement of 60 MW, acute power crisis, the worst in recent past, gripped Gaya. Nearly half-a-million Gayaites squirmed in bed in sultry weather conditions as long power cuts and frequent trippings made night virtually unbearable. Patients and shoppers were the worst victims as power played truant.

The crisis also impacted water availability as both the municipal water supply system and groundwater pumping in non-service households suffered hold-ups. The locals cursed India Power, the franchise holder, as the company had earlier assured uninterrupted and quality power supply to nearly 1,00,000 power users of domestic and non-domestic categories.

When contacted, India Power AGM (administration) Rakesh Ranjan attributed the present phase of the crisis to non-availability of adequate power. The company has the franchise for power distribution only and there was no local fault or any other distribution-related problem, said Ranjan. The responsibility for making power available was that of Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited and India Power was only entrusted with the distribution aspect of power supply. Power Holding Company officials, according to Ranjan, attributed the crisis to the snags developed in some NTPC units. India Power will see to it that the power users have to face no problem on account of any lapse on the company’s part, he added.

Referring to the perception that India Power was responsible for the present phase of the crisis, India Power AGM said the company would reach out to the users and explain the situation. Asked about the mechanism to directly reach the power users, the AGM said that he had received suggestions about bulk SMS to the power users to update them on the situation and alert/inform them in advance about problems, if necessary.

The India Power official hoped that with the removal of the snags in the NTPC units, the power situation will soon improve. Ranjan did not give any specific deadline for the restoration of complete normalcy. “Power users have high expectations from the company and the company will do everything possible to fulfill their expectations,” he said. The India Power official claimed that the response time for local fault repair has drastically been curtailed and well-equipped teams of the company are engaged in providing round-the-clock emergency service and equipped vehicles are stationed at the West Church Road point for quick response.

Courtesy: TNN

Power distributor in Gaya struggles to fulfil expectations

Gaya: Over five weeks after it took over power distribution in Gaya town, Manpur and Bodh Gaya, India Power struggles to fulfill high expectations of the nearly one lakh power users tagged to the company. India Power took over on June 1, 2014 after the failure of nearly half a dozen deadlines beginning January 1, 2014. 

Rainy season has never been good for either Bihar State Power (Holding) Company Limited or South Bihar Power Holding Corporation, India Power’s predecessors in the field of power supply in Gaya and Bodh Gaya. Old-timers recall the basic infrastructure was laid by the state electricity board in the late fifties of the last century when power requirement was limited to lights and, in few cases, ceiling/table fans. The series of gadgets including airconditioners, air coolers, refrigerators, pumps, mixers, grinders and television sets, to name only a few, virtually did not exist in the twin cities then. 

No major infrastructural change has taken place since then and the work claimed to have been done by the PowerGrid and other agencies, according to activist S B Bhaskar, has been at best cosmetic. 

Old-timers also recall the pre-monsoon pruning of the trees to facilitate hassle-free power supply was routinely done till the seventies and things went from bad to worse thereafter. If India Power officials are to be believed, the environment and forest department too was responsible for the agony of Gaya power users as the department during the numerous plantation drives planted trees with little roots. Deep-root trees have not been planted by the department with the result that though the trees from outside look majestic, even gentle winds make them fall. 

India Power struggles to overcome the infrastructural shortcomings. According to Central Bihar Chamber of Commerce president D K Jain, power users expect the new distributor to provide uninterrupted quality power with little/no voltage fluctuations and error-free billing. The business body chief feels all this cannot be achieved overnight and some time must be given to the power distributor to put its act together. 

Activist Braj Nandan Pathak, who has been on the forefront of the struggle for better power supply in the town, says India Power has got its priorities wrong. Whereas the company, according to Pathak, has done little to gain the confidence of the power users particularly those living in the less privileged localities, it has slapped fancy bills on poor power users. In many cases, consumers, who as per the company’s own record, have consumed less than 300 units, have been served bills for Rs five thousand and more, alleged Pathak.

Courtesy: TNN

Digha grid goes kaput, west Patna ‘power’ less

Patna: Thousands of city residents spent a sleepless night and a distressing day during the last 20 hours or so as the western parts of Patna plunged into power crisis on Sunday afternoon after the Digha grid station went kaput following damages to the cable through which it receives power.

The worst hit were areas such as Pataliputra, North S K Puri, Boring Road, East Boring Canal Road, West Boring Canal Road, Nehru Nagar, Digha, Kurji, Rajiv Nagar, Buddha Colony, Anandpuri, Indrapuri, Shivpuri and Rajapul.

Technical experts of the South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited could not give a specific reply as to when the power supply situation would turn normal. Even Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking GM (transmission) Arun Kumar Sinha was clueless till Monday afternoon though “we are on the job”.

“It will take a couple of days,” is all Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited (BSPHCL) spokesman H R Pandey could say when asked about the restoration of normal power supply.

One line of the double-circuit cable of Digha grid got damaged in December last due to the ongoing construction work on Bailey Road. “An imported kit was required for its repair. It arrived on Monday,” Pandey said and added, in the meantime, the other line of the double-circuit cable was damaged on Sunday evening due to some construction work near the canal on Bailey Road.

As a result of the damages to both the cables, SBPDCL has not been able to utilize since Sunday afternoon nearly 50MW of power which could have otherwise been supplied to these localities. “But we are supplying power from our other sources to the affected areas on rotational basis,” Pandey told TOI.

After at least one of the cables gets repaired with the help of the imported kit, sources said, normal power supply would be restored “temporarily”.

“I could not even dream of such prolonged power cuts in the state capital. We had not stored enough diesel for our apartment’s genset and, as such, had to spend a sleepless night on Sunday,” said Manoj Kumar, resident of a Boring Road apartment. Homemaker Rashmi of North S K Puri apprehended water crisis in days to come. “I have decided to store water for exigencies,” she said.

Ironically, commercial production at the unit-II of the National Thermal Power Corporation’s super thermal power plant at Barh has also been delayed due to multiple tube leakage. The commercial production of 660MW power at the unit-II was to begin on Saturday, and Bihar would have got half of it, as per a power purchase agreement, which would have been a major contribution to ease the perennial power crisis in the state.

Courtesy: TNN

Bihar to get 5k MW by 2015

barh-power-projectPatna: Bihar is likely to get 5000MW power by 2015 end. Currently, the demand has gone up to 2300MW in the state. The state government has reiterated its commitment to make the state self-sufficient in power within the next two years.

By March 2014, the state would start getting an additional 330MW power from one unit (stage-II) of NTPC’s Barh thermal power station.

According to official sources, to improve power scenario in the state, electricity poles, wires and transformers are in the process of being replaced with new ones in 71 towns.

Sources said super grids would be installed at Lakhisarai, Gaya, Banka and Darbhanga which would help the state in getting power from any grid in the country. “We are moving from zero to self-sufficiency in spite of the fact that the state is facing odds on availability of coal from the Centre,” said an official.

The state government has set a power availability target of 5,300MW by 2015. This includes the current central allocation of 1,800MW. “The state government hopes that the NTPC’s Barh unit will be ready by 2015, from where the state has been allocated 1,200MW. Apart from this, the state’s own power generation units at Muzaffarpur and Barauni would also be ready by then. We expect 800MW from these units,” an official said.

“The state government has also signed long-term power purchase agreements with various private players, which would give us another 1,000MW. We are also buying 200MW from Adani Power. We are getting 100MW from DVC. Then, there are several other projects which will help along the way. We are confident that we will be self-sufficient in power by 2015,” said a senior official of the Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited (BSPHCL).”

He also claimed that Bihar will be a power surplus state by the year 2020. “Our promises are for 2015, but we are aiming beyond that. We want to have power generation of 16,000-17,000MW by 2020,” said an official. “The Nabinagar project, a joint venture between Bihar government and NTPC, is on track,” he said.

The Union government has also given its nod for setting up an Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) at Kakwara in Banka district, from which Bihar will get its share of 2,000MW in another five years.

The state government has already signed an MoU with PowerGrid to set up a joint venture for revamping, strengthening and augmenting the transmission network.

Courtesy: TNN

Final public hearing on power tariff on Feb 12-13

barh-power-projectPatna: Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission (BERC) will hold a two-day final public hearing on tariff petition for 2014-15 here on February 12 and 13. The hearing for Darbhanga and Muzaffarpur is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. The public hearing in Chhapra and Gaya would be held on February 5 and 11 respectively.

Representatives of Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Bihar Industries Association (BIA) will appear at the two-day hearing here in the state capital. The BERC will announce its decision on new power tariff for the next financial year by March. The BERC has engaged a Hyderabad-based consultant, Administrative Staff College, for analysing and determining annual revenue requirement (ARR) by the Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited (BSPHCL) and the tariff.

The consultant will determine voltage-wise cost of supply, taking into account the cost of power purchased and voltage loss level. It would also determine the subsidy for different categories of consumers as per the policy of the state government, said an official.

The consultant will also verify energy audit results to determine the loss in different areas/localities and scrutinize and analyse the data used in the tariff petition by the BSPHCL. This would include verification of the normative consumption of electricity by agricultural consumers and Kutir Jyoti consumers in rural areas as proposed by the BSPHCL

The BSPHCL has submitted its proposal to the BERC, seeking steep hike in electricity tariff for domestic and commercial supply. The proposed hike is nearly 50% and, if approved by the BERC, would be effective from the financial year 2014-15.

Some of the political parties and members of Bijli Upbhokta Sangharsh Samiti have strongly opposed the move to increase the electricity tariff by nearly 50%. “Any increase in the electricity tariff will be disastrous for the industrial activities as well as business and civic life,” said a local activist. They have urged the BERC to review the proposal of the steep hike in electricity tariff on the pattern of New Delhi and Mumbai. The hike in electricity tariff would vitiate the industrial atmosphere in Bihar that yearns for industrialization and growth, said a local businessman. They have requested CM Nitish Kumar to intervene in the matter.

Representatives of various power workers union said the BSPHCL should first improve its functioning, make efforts to bring down the transmission loss and provide uninterrupted power supply to the industries before raising the tariff.

Courtesy: TNN