NTPC told to continue power supply to Reliance-led discoms

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New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday directed the state-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) to continue supplying electricity to Reliance-led distribution firms in the capital BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna till March 26, and said consumers must not be inconvenienced.

The apex court bench of Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice A.K. Sikri also asked the two companies to pay Rs.50 crore to NTPC as a part payment of the outstanding dues within two weeks.

“This is not the right attitude to take,” the bench told NTPC counsel, referring to the notice to cut off supplies the state-run utility had served on the two companies. “We have to look after the people of Delhi. The consumer should not suffer,” it said.

“We are extremely grateful to the honourable Supreme Court for its kind intervention on our petition, restraining NTPC from cutting power supplies,” the two companies said in a statement, adding this has prevented unwarranted hardship to millions customers.

“We look forward to long-term resolution of the fundamental underlying issue of the past under-recoveries of nearly Rs.20,000 crore, when the honourable Supreme Court takes up our petition on March 26 for final disposal,” they added.

The apex court also issued notice to the central and the Delhi governments, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and NTPC, asking them to respond to the Reliance’s plea within two weeks and gave another one week to the two companies to file their replies.

NTPC had asked BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna to pay up by Feb 11 or face a power cut.

Appearing for the two companies, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said they had still not been paid dues worth Rs.15,000 crore, as directed by the DERC. This, he said, has caused a huge burden on them as they could not pass this on to the consumers either.

Pointing to the dichotomy of the situation, Rohatgi told the court that while the two companies were not getting what was due to them, NTPC was asking them to cough up its outstanding dues.

The two companies supply electricity to nearly two-thirds of the city’s areas, catering to nearly 3.5 million consumers.

The Supreme Court’s directives Friday come against the backdrop of the government of the national capital recommending to the regulator to revoke the licenses issued to the two companies if they failed to pay their dues to NTPC and/or resort to power cuts.

Reacting to this development, the two companies earlier said the recommendation was illegal and arbitrary, and that they expected an independent decision by the regulatory authority while dealing with the subject.

“As legally advised, the proposed cancellation of licenses in this situation is arbitrary and illegal, and will only serve to de-motivate thousands of our employees who have timelessly worked to transform the power supply situation in Delhi,” the two firms said.

They urged the Delhi government and the regulator Friday to engage constructively with them so that unnecessary crises are not precipitated. A positive engagement, they said, in a fair and transparent manner will ensure reliable, quality power at optimal prices.

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