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GIM power investments will only worsen power crisis
10 June 2010

Commenting to the media on the heavy investments proposed in the power sector (~44,000 crores) during last week's Global Investors Meet (GIM), Loksatta party Shadow Cabinet Member, Mr. Muralidhar Rao said "It is ironical but the increased power investments will only worsen the existing power crisis in the state."

Elaborating on this, he brought to light a statement made a few weeks back by Mr. K. Jairaj, Principal Secretary (Energy) that a major reason for the power shortage in the state is that 'the power generating units are too old'. While this calls for an urgent need for replacement, the financial position of Karnataka's primary power generating corporation, KPCL, is nearly bankrupt. No investments on new generating units are possible in this situation.

Mr. Rao points out that the reason KPCL is cash-strapped is not due to any losses. On the contrary it is making good profits. But it is not being paid its money due to low collections made by the state's six distribution companies (DISCOMS).

Sifting through 'confidential' information on KPCL's finances that he acquired through RTI, he showed that KPCL is paid more than 13 months after billing and has a current ratio of 5.27. Mr. Rao wondered whether any power generating company in any other part of the world ran on such imprudent financials! Private power generators are, however, unaffected by low collections by distribution companies since their payments are protected by state government guarantees. Increase in private generators who need to be paid on priority will further delay payments to KPCL.

Mr. Rao predicts that if things go the way they are, KPCL will soon meet the same fate as NGEF which closed down in 2002. This will lead to the complete collapse of power generation capability in the state. He called for an urgent need for reform of the power sector in the state.

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