MSEB Paying Price For Poor Post-Dabhol Homework

Mumbai: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Maharashtra power secretarys recent admission that non-availability of power from Dabhol phase-I (658 mw) was one of the prime reasons for the ongoing shortages has exposed the states failure to project such an eventuality in the past and carry out capacity addition. The power secretary went on to add that the state had not planned for deficit and hence further capacity addition had not been provided for.

Moreover, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), whose balance sheet turned red after the purchase of costly Dabhol power, and its decision to put on hold Reliances Patalganga (610 mw) and Ispats Bhadravati (1,082 mw), BSES Palghar project (490 mw), is answerable for these decisions. Its decision not to give consent for drawl of power from the state-run National Thermal Power Corporation and Nuclear Power Corporation has also worsened the situation.

Ironically, Maharashtra, with a total installed capacity of 14,420 mw excluding Dabhol phase-I, has been carrying out a daily load shedding of 800 mw to 2,000 mw to tackle peaking shortages. On the basis of the availability of 12,146 mw, the MSEB system has been meeting the peak demand of 9,000 mw.

MSEB has admitted that to meet the present demand of the state, which is expected to rise at the rate of about 3.7 per cent, there is need for additional capacity. MSEB on its own would not be in a position to add a single megawatt during the 10th Plan. It, however, has been expecting 1,020.5 mw of power Ghatghar pump storage- 250 mw, small hydro-90 mw, Sardar Sarovar share-391.5 mw and non-conventional sources-289 mw during the 10th plan.

MSEBs internal exercise shows that the loss of capacity availability was on account of the planned/forced/partial outages of the power plants, inferior quality of coal affecting the loadability of thermal units, limited water resources for Koyana project, inadequate supply of gas for Uran power station etc.

Clearly, the state had never foreseen a situation wherein the Dabhol project would be closed down. However, this happened when MSEB rescinded the power purchase agreement with the now fallen Dabhol Power Company (DPC) on May 23, 200 1, and suspended power purchase since May 29, 2001.

Although MSEB had succeeded in reducing its losses substantially, it is clear that it did not do its homework properly on the capacity addition front as well as in containing pilferages.

Curiously, MSEB has projected a marginal surplus of 3 per cent in energy availability till the end of 10th plan with the resumption of Dabhol phase-I. However, it will continue to have a deficit of 3.7 per cent to 17 per cent thereafter. It is for this reason that it needs to clinch a better deal as far as Dabhol is concerned. It also needs to reconsider its decision to put on hold various projects.

MSEBs internal study has rightly concluded that augmentation of capacity can be done by entering into agreement with central organisations, such as NTPC, NPC, NHPC to tie up purchase and start construction of Parali and Paras by raising funds from Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electricity Corporation and also internally by curbing thefts.