Govt blames non-functional units for power shortage

SHILLONG: Meghalaya government has blamed the non- functional units of Palatana power project in Tripura and Kopili power project in Assam as the reasons behind the state government’s decision to resort to load shedding.
The matter was discussed in the state cabinet here on Monday. Speaking to media persons after the meeting, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said that some units of both the power projects are not functioning and hence about 50 MW of power supply to Meghalaya has been restricted.
“The situation is something which is beyond our government’s control,” he said.
In addition, earlier, power banking used to take place under which Meghalaya government was supplying power to some agencies and it used to take it back during peak seasons but the Centre has changed its guidelines.
The notification about stopping the idea of power banking was issued few months back whereas Meghalaya government had given power to different agencies in June and July and to retrieve the power back to Meghalaya, the state government is working on the letter of credit, he said.
The chief minister, however, said that discussions are on to reduce the load shedding and some major relief is expected to be given to people in the next 7-10 days.
Earlier, the chief minister chaired a review meeting with the chief secretary, MeECL officials and others and discussed load shedding and pending salary of the employees.
Sources said that the government may pay the pending dues of Rs 13.8 crore to NTPC to avail 60 MW of power which will help the government to tide over the crisis for 45 days.
In addition, the state government has also asked the MeECL to reduce the duration of load shedding since it is too long.
Sangma said that the aggregate technical & commercial losses of the MeECL is nearly 30 per cent which is very high and now the government is thinking of introducing technologies like smart metering to reduce such losses.
Informing that around 1.8 lakh smart meters will be installed in Shillong and sub-urban areas, he said that there are around 4.57 lakh MeECL consumers in the state, adding this project is being funded by Asian Development Bank.
According to Sangma, in 2012-13, MeECL had to pay the dues of Rs 243 crore to NEEPCO which shot upto Rs 500 crore in 2016-17 which forced NEEPCO to regulate power.
He said that a payment of Rs 363 crore was made to NEEPCO and in 2018-19, Rs 625 crore has been accumulated as pending dues. However, the state government on an average is now paying Rs 65 lakh per day to NEEPCO.
The chief minister has also asked MeECL to provide all the details of the users to him within a few days including the power consumed by the industrial units.
Appealing people to use LED lights and save energy, Sangma also said that the Centre has agreed to installs solar projects along with net metering in 121 government institutions, including the Secretariat, CM Bungalow, PHCs and CHCs as the idea is to provide electricity to those areas where there is absolutely no power at all.

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