Illegal granting of Rs 270cr to KSEB contractors for power purchase unearthed

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Thiruvananthapuram: It has been unearthed that the KSEB had illegally given an excess amount of Rs 270.38 crore to the contractors for power purchase. This was done flouting the rule that power should be brought only from those who gave the lowest quotations. Those who quoted exorbitant rates were given out of turn contracts for power purchase.

These irregularities were unearthed during the annual financial stock-taking undertaken by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission at the KSEB for the period 2020-21.

By allowing such illegal deals, it is alleged that some of the top KSEB officials amassed huge sums of money as bribes.

The excess amount was sanctioned to the contractors during the period from April, 2018 to August, 2020.

According to an order issued by Electricity Regulatory Commission Chairman Preman Dinaraj and Member advocate M J Wilson on June 24, an additional amount of Rs.129.01 crore was given to the contractors in 2018-19, Rs.105.39 crore in 2019-20 and Rs. 35.98 crore in 2020-21.

The additional sums of money were sanctioned to Jindal Power Limited, Jabua Power Limited and Jindal India Thermal Limited.

The Regulatory Commission pointed out that the excess amount was sanctioned to the unauthorised power supply contractors in violation of the order issued by the Commission on July 8, 2019.

The Commission in its order on June 24 asked the KSEB to urgently bring these illegal deals to the attention of the State Government and take stern action against the culprits. The Commission also suggested the placing of matter before the full KSEB Board.

As part of finding a solution to power shortage, the decision to purchase power from outside was taken when Oommen Chandy was the Chief Minister. Aryadan Muhammed was the Power Minister then and M Sivasankar the KSEB Chairman.

It was Sivasankar who made ground work for buying power from outside agencies. But follow-up actions were mostly taken during the period when M M Mani was the Power Minister. N S Pillai was the KSEB chairman during this period.

Idea was to purchase 850 MW

The then UDF Government decided to buy 850 MW of power for the next 25 years in order to meet the rising demand of power and avoid load shedding and power cut. Such a move was initiated on the basis of a study report.

The sanction for purchase agreements was given on October 1, 2017. Quotation for two contracts was called by the KSEB in 2017. The two companies, which quoted the lowest amount, were given contracts.

But after the LDF came to power, three more companies, which quoted an amount higher than that of the rate quoted by these two companies, were given contracts, citing acute power crisis in the State.

Though the idea was to buy 850 MW of power from the outside agencies, only 450 MW of power was supplied by them.

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