NEW DELHI: In a reversal that may provide some comfort to India’s power sector—distributors (discom) and generators (gencos) both—discoms’ pending dues to gencos fell for the second month in a row in January, according to data from the Ministry of Power.
A perusal of the figures released on the ministry’s PRAAPTI portal show that discoms owed gencos pending dues worth Rs 1,25,478 crore at the end of the month—Rs 1,851 crore lower than the dues at the end of December 2020.
This is the first time that this figure has fallen for two consecutive months since the outbreak of the pandemic. December 2020 had been the first time since July 2020 that this metric had halted its steady rise—falling from Rs 1,27,695 crore at the end of November 2020 to Rs 1,27,329 crore. In July, it had fallen from Rs 1,23,506 crore at the end of June 2020 to Rs 1,22,943 crore. Every other month since March last year has seen a sharp increase in discom dues.
“There has been some reduction in dues because some operational efficiencies in discoms have improved. Also, the end of winter has resulted in a reduction of power consumption for heaters, etc, in northern India,” observed a power sector executive working with a private genco, adding that it would be critical to see if dues continue to fall once summer sets in—usually a period where consumption goes through the roof. “If there isn’t any big improvement in AT&C losses (unpaid bills come under this head), summer will see dues rising sharply again,” he added.
Brokerage house ICRA
Ratings has pegged discoms’ losses at over Rs 75,000 crore even though a demand recovery is expected next financial year (FY22) primarily due to inadequate tariffs, high distribution losses, and additional interest cost arising from the loans availed under the liquidity support scheme.