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Friday, May 24, 2024

Improving power scenario, cutting losses minister’s priorities

The department will reportedly take a call on such pending projects and will write to the private power developers (to whom these projects were awarded). If such developers are not willing to proceed further, then the department may scrap the plans and think afresh.

SHILLONG:

Abu Taher Mondol, who is back in the saddle after a decade as Power minister, said that his immediate priority is to see how the department can improve the power scenario in Meghalaya vis-à-vis generation, transmission and distribution.

“At the same time, we will see how to cope with the losses since you are aware many corporations and organisations owe us [Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited, MeECL]. So considering all this, our thrust would be to see overall improvement in the power scenario in the state,” Mondol said after a review meeting with officials of the department on Thursday.

Mondol also informed that the department discussed several power projects commissioned in 2007, 2008 or 2011, but which are yet to be implemented.

The department will reportedly take a call on such pending projects and will write to the private power developers (to whom these projects were awarded). If such developers are not willing to proceed further, then the department may scrap the plans and think afresh.

On the allegations against Saubhagya and smart meter projects, Mondol said that inquiries into these have already been conducted and reports were awaited.

Further, the department is now tasked with finding a means to undo the losses at which the MeECL runs, which was originally supposed to earn from power trading.

“If we minimise the losses, then it will help in serving our officers better. Many are not getting their pensions. We are trying to find a way to settle these issues,” he said.

Asked what went wrong given the state was once a power-surplus generator, Mondol said that was a long time ago with a sparse population. However, the expansion of the state, electrification of villages and high consumption of utilities have increased the demand for electricity exponentially.

“These days we are using many appliances, so per capita consumption has gone up. Our generation has not been able to keep pace, so we have to revisit these deficiencies, so that we become a power-surplus state again.”

Mondol hopes to restructure the MeECL in a way that it starts to earn profit while meeting the needs of the people.

“Many committees or organisations have given us recommendations; we will be studying all those suggestions. If needed, we will entrust it to some other entities also to make this corporation function in a better way,” he said.

On the issue of frequent power cuts and how the government aims to resolve it, he said that there is a gap between demand and supply and the department’s intention would be to narrow this gap.

In store is a survey of lands under the Power department’s jurisdiction, especially for the categorisation of disputes. A 100-day target has been set for identifying free land and how such lands can be utilised in service of power.

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