BANGALORE: Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy has charged the Energy Department with irregularities to the tune of thousands of crores in its power deals. Participating in a debate on the demand for grants of the Energy Department in the Assembly on Monday, Kumaraswamy demanded a thorough probe into the purchase of power, transformers and coal in the last two decades.
Kumaraswamy ripped apart the style of functioning of the department over the years, with special focus on the way the department was handled during the previous BJP regime. He urged the government to constitute a Legislature House Committee to probe the whole gamut of affairs in the department under successive governments during the past 20 years.
“The then BJP government had promised to make Karnataka an energy surplus state by 2014 by taking the generation capacity to 16,000 MW, but failed to add even 1 MW of capacity. It seems they (BJP) focused more on purchasing power from private producers instead of concentrating on adding generation capacity,” Kumaraswamy said.
Spending on buying power from private producers saw a huge rise after the exit of the JD(S)-BJP coalition government. While the coalition government spent `28 crore to buy power in 2006-07, in the last five years other governments spent `17,480 crore. In 2013-14 alone, `3,191 crore has been spent, Kumaraswamy said.
He questioned the rationale of going for short and medium term power purchase agreements at high rates instead of long-term agreements. While the average tariff of private power was `5-6 per unit earlier, the government paid up to `12-14 per unit in the last few years.
He said the proportion of private power, which was a mere 0.1 per cent of the overall power supplied in 2007-08, has seen a rapid rise. It rose to 4.69 per cent in 2008-09, 4.24 per cent in 2009-10, 16.42 per cent in 2010-11, 11.75 per cent in 2011-12 and an ‘alarming’ 19 per cent in 2012-13.
Kumaraswamy said the JD(S)-BJP government had not raised power tariff, but later governments raised it almost every year by about 7-10 per cent. He expressed surprise at the sinking financial condition of ESCOMS, which owe `11,000 crore to Karnataka Power Corporation, despite an additional revenue of `10,000 crore from tariff hikes over the last five years.
Referring to ‘Nirantara Jyothi,’ under which 24X7 power was promised for rural households, Kumaraswamy said the previous BJP government had spent `400 crore for purchase of transformers under the scheme, but nobody knows where these transformers are. Another `600 crore was spent on purchasing power equipment under the programme ‘Rural Area Load Management System.’
He wanted to know if power was bought at such steep rates to meet shortages or for other reasons.
Congress members Shivamurthy and Ramesh Kumar also demanded a thorough probe into these aspects. Ramesh Kumar wanted a probe into the role of senior officials and engineers in ESCOMs and KPTCL. “It is not enough if you (Kumaraswamy) point fingers at regimes of other political parties; you should also mention the loot by officers. They too should be sent to Parappana Agrahara (jail),” he said.
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