Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

There is no disorder in the language of orders issued. But while executing the same orders, the Central Electricity Supply Company of Orissa (CESCO) exhibits an internal disorder that has kept it engulfed since the start.

Corruption in CESCO is admittedly “very serious in nature to say the least” (CESCO/APDRP letter No. 35095 dated 12.12.2005).

Privatization of electricity was projected as a necessity for elimination of deficiency in generation, transmission and management of this core component of all other industrial and civic activities of the people. Orissa was the first province to adopt and promote this idea. But she has the worst experience. The purpose of privatization is getting defeated day-by-day, everyday.

Unable to reverse the process, the people have started tolerating public funding to CESCO with the hope that it may better its performance. Accelerated Power Development & Restructural Programme (APDRP) is one such endeavor that fetches public funding.

Under this programme, emphasis is put on reduction of loss of power in transmission. And for this, restructuring of transmission lines with LT XLPE cable being essential, Government of India is providing fund-assistance to the tune of 50 per cent of the cable cost.

But a section of CESCO officials have indulged in corrupt practices to swindle away this money. A Delhi based company, Amardeep Cables (P) Ltd., is a beneficiary of their corrupt practice.

Orders for 238 KM long LT XLPE AB cable of different size were placed with this company despite the fact that it was earlier taken to task for having cheated CESCO through short supply. A source in Orissa’s Residential Commissioner’s office at New Delhi informs that the Delhi based company has its agents in CESCO in various administrative posts through which it protects its interest.

Our investigation revealed that the Deputy General Manager, Electrical Circle-1, Bhubaneswar, Sri Debabrata Rath was authorized to “inspect full 238 Kms long specified AB cable at the manufacturing unit of Amardeep Cables as per relevant ISS”.

The said Sri Rath visited the factory and inspected the entire quantity of cables and not only certified the same to be accurate to specification, but also sitting in the office of the said firm, issued orders for supply of the cables vide his numberless letter dated 11 October 2005.

The cables arrived. In accordance with the order of Sri Rath, 142 Km long cables were despatched to Choudwar store and 96 Km cables were stored at Bhubaneswar. But a verification of the cables about to be used at Cuttack on 7th December 2005 revealed that those were of lower size than what was specified. “The insulation also appeared to be not of proper quality”, according to the General Manager (APDRP).

The Central Institute of Polythene Engineering & Technology (CIPET) of the Central Government at Chandaka was asked to verify as to whether the insulation is as per XLPE standard. It was found deficient. A preliminary report from Central Power Resources Institute (CPRI), Bangalore also indicates that the cables are not of necessary standard.

It is clear that the cables received from Amardeep Cables (P) Ltd are deficient in standard and short in size. It is quite dangerous to use these cables as they are of insufficient insulation. This goes against the very concept of Accelerated Power Development & Restructural Programme for which the Union Government has shared 50 per cent of the cost.

It is clear that the DGM, Electrical Circle No.1, Mr. Debabrata Rath has given a false certificate in favour of the supplier company causing thereby serious threat to life and property of the public over and above the direct loss to the Exchequer. The CEO-cum-Administrator of CESCO who approved Rath’s report and his suggestion for putting the order for the cables to Amardeep Cables (P) Ltd, is perhaps hand-in-glove with Rath. This apprehension gains ground from the fact that Rath has not yet been punished for earlier malfeasances.

The most intriguing aspect of this deal is the continuing character of the malefaction. In an earlier deal, the duo in collaboration was the same company Amardeep Cables and the same CESCO functionary Debabrata Rath.

The role of Rath as well as the role of CEO of CESCO in relying upon Rath despite earlier experience must be expeditiously determined with prompt prosecution so that misdeeds of this type no more mars the most essential public programs like APDRP.

Can the CVC take a look into it?