Staff qualification issue jolts KSEB

With the SERC threatening action, the KSEB has turned to the state government for help.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The qualification of its staff, or rather the lack of it as per a Central diktat, has put Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) in a spot.

The government-run power utility is troubled by a six-year-old Central Electricity Authority (CEA) regulation, which requires supervisors and engineers in power generation, transmission and distribution wings to be diploma or degree holders in engineering from a recognised institute.

However, nearly 3,000 KSEB staff who play supervisory roles, including those of overseers (LT line supervisors), sub-engineers (in-charge of lines up to 11kV) and assistant engineers (for supervising lines above 11kV), hold certificates from ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) only.

Now, with the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) threatening action under section 142 of the Electricity Act for disobeying the CEA condition, the KSEB has turned to the state government for help. From what was learnt, it sought a two-year exemption from enforcing the CEA norm, something which, sources said, the government was not averse to giving.

When contacted, S Rajeev, KSEB Director (Generation-Civil and HR), said a formal decision of the government in the matter was awaited.

The SERC entered the picture following complaints that under-qualified persons were working on electrical installations like overhead power lines. The complainants blamed the absence of qualified staff for the ‘large number of electrical mishaps and deaths occurring every year’.

The SERC noted that the condition was set in the ‘CEA (Measures Relating to Safety and Supply) Regulations’ in 2010, which the KSEB kept ignoring for over five years. The KSEB informed the commission that of its 1,819 assistant engineers, 164 held ITI certificates, while others had a degree or diploma. However, two-thirds of its sub-engineers held ITI certificates.

Normally, ITI certificate holders get promoted to assistant engineer only after 20 years of service. THE KSEB contended that prolonged grass-root experience of ITI-qualified assistant engineers could not be discounted.

“Efficacy of ITI-qualified assistant engineers in discharging duties assigned to them is a proven fact. This is why the Board set apart 20 percent of the cadre strength of assistant engineers (Electrical) through promotion of sub-engineers with ITI qualifications,” the KSEB told the SERC. It also mentioned plans to redeploy sub engineers with ITI qualification to the distribution and revenue wings.

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