CHENNAI: After having recorded a steep decline during the last quarter of fiscal year 2020-21, the amount of money India’s power distribution companies (discom) owe electricity generators (gencos) has started to register an increase again during April and May 2021, even as discom payments towards these dues have dived.
According to the latest data update on the ministry’s PRAAPTI portal, discom overdues have been on a declining trend over the second half of the past fiscal year (FY21). Total overdues (including disputed amounts) falling from Rs 1,06,910 crore in November 2020, to Rs 88,859 crore in March 2021.
This fall was driven by accelerated payments by discoms towards dues, going from Rs 45,900 crore in the quarter between October-December 2020 to Rs 67,200 crore in the January-March 2021 period. In fact, in March 2021, discoms are accounted to have paid Rs 39,962 crore toward overdues.
Much of this decline has been driven by credit disbursements made under the Union government-backed Rs 1.35 lakh-crore liquidity assistance scheme, announced as part of the pandemic relief measures last year.
According to a report from Crisil Ratings, disbursements of around Rs 1.05 lakh crore are expected to reach discoms by the end of this fiscal year. Last fiscal year, around Rs 30,000 crore had been disbursed, “which arrested the rise in receivables to an estimated ~125 days as of March 2021 (compared with ~117 days as of March 2020),” it said.
In April and May 2021, however, overdues rose again—to Rs 90,142 crore and Rs 96,084 crore respectively. The power ministry defines overdues as those dues that are already past their due date (between 45-60 days) and remain partially or completely unpaid.
Payments by discoms to gencos also slowed in those two months, going to Rs 10,986 crore and Rs 9,215 crore respectively. According to industry sources, the fall in payments and rise in overdues is mild and primarily due to the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.