After two rounds of load shedding in February and earlier this month that have irked citizens of the State, Meghalaya is set to reel in darkness from midnight of March 20 for six months.
The reason for this is the failure by Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) to clear its dues to NEEPCO which is presently the only electricity supplier to the State.
If MeECL fails to pay the dues, the State is bound for a six-month long load shedding for 24 hours every day since the existing power stations operated by MeECL like Umiam, Leshka and others cannot meet the daily electricity requirement in the State.
“Our power stations cannot even meet the requirement of Shillong city. If we run the power stations at full throttle everyday to meet the power requirement in the State, the water level at Umiam and other power projects would decrease and so our own generation capacity won’t last even for a week,” a senior engineer of MeECL told Highland Post today.
NEEPCO has written to the North Eastern Regional Load Despatch Centre to snap electricity supply to Meghalaya for six months unless the State government clears the pending dues amounting to Rs 504.41 crore.
According to NEEPCO, despite constant persuasion at various levels, the MeECL has failed to clear the outstanding power dues against purchase of power from various power stations of NEEPCO.
The dues of MeECL to NEEPCO continue to escalate and the outstanding have piled up to Rs 156.70 crore as on March 15 plus late payment surcharge (LPS) of Rs 347.71 crore. The total dues as on March 15 stand at Rs 504.41 crore.
NEEPCO has today served a notice to MeECL informing that power supply to Meghalaya would be stopped from midnight of March 20 for six months unless MeECL pays the outstanding dues of more than 45 days whichever is earlier.
“As the outstanding payment and late payment surcharges are more than seven months old, therefore Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited may be debarred from procuring power from a power exchange or grant of short term open access till such bill is paid,” NEEPCO said in the letter to the North Eastern Regional Load Despatch Centre.
Meghalaya gets 147.53 Mega Watt (MW) of electricity from eight power stations of NEEPCO.
It may be mentioned that the Union Power Ministry has recently asked the Meghalaya government to clear the power bills of NEEPCO.
Union Power Secretary Tanmay Kumar in a letter to Meghalaya Power Secretary Pravin Bakshi on March 12 has expressed concern over the failure by MeECL to clear the outstanding dues to NEEPCO.
“The Central power generation companies particularly NEEPCO continue to face acute liquidity crunch and are finding it extremely difficult to continue with normal operation of their power stations. For a small company like NEEPCO, the outstanding dues receivable from Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited of about Rs 504 crore has become an unbearable burden as routine operational expenditures have to be borne through funds raised from the market at exorbitant cost,” the Union Power Secretary said in the letter to the Meghalaya Power Secretary.
The Union Power Secretary also said that the Central government has launched the Liquidity Infusion Scheme to enable power distribution companies to clear their outstanding dues to central power sector undertakings and that a loan of Rs 1345.72 crore has been sanctioned to Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited by the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) and Power Finance Corporation (PFC) under this scheme.
“It has been informed to this Ministry that so far Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited has availed of Rs 386.86 crore from REC and PFC and this amount was disbursed to the central power sector undertakings in January 2021 as the first installment of the first tranche of the loan. Thereafter, Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited has not made any further request to REC and PFC for disbursement of the balance sanctioned amount,” the Union Power Secretary said.
“Therefore, it is a matter of concern that Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited is unable to avail of this opportunity extended by the Government of India to clear their dues,” he added.
The Union Power Secretary also asked the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited to request REC and PFC to disburse the remaining installments to NEEPCO within March 15 “failing which sanction of the loan will be liable to be withdrawn”.