Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

“The ‘autonomy agreement’ signed between Grid Corporation of Orissa (GRIDCO) and the State Government on March 30, 1996 should be honored and implemented in letter and in spirit” if the Government is serious in its commitment to bring about a reform in the electricity sector, the GRIDCO Power Engineers’ Association (hereinafter called Association) has told Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik in no uncertain terms, in its emergency general body meeting held here recently.

We have dealt with the confusion that has cropped up in power management following separation of trading from transmission under a 2005 scheme in our report at https://orissamatters.com/news/index.php/category/state-in-brief. Under the scheme, a new public sector company styled as Orissa Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (OPTCL) has been formed to carry out exclusively the task of transmission leaving the task of trading to GRIDCO alone.

The Association has “felt” that “segregation of trading will have serious repercussions on the financial viability “unless the issues pertaining to tariff set by OERC for the transmission company is made realistic keeping in mind the projected expenses and the ‘huge’ past liabilities”. Placing the resolution before the CM, it has pointed out that sans a realistic treatment, the OPTCL will start functioning “as a financially deficit company from the very beginning”. It has stressed, that OREC’s order of profit capping at the rate of 5 paise per unit should not come on the way of the trading unit GRIDCO, which, if market principles are honored, should be allowed to sell power to outside states by bidding process.

To make ‘reform’, contemplated in the scheme, a reality, “there should be internal reforms in the rules, regulations and working system of GRIDCO and OPTCL” so that they run “professionally”, the Association has pointed out.

While stressing that the structures of both the trade and transmission companies needs a revamp to cater to the changing organizational requirements, it has called upon the CM to ensure grooming of engineers to take up higher responsibility by matching opportunities in career. By removing red-tapism as is in vogue in the finance department of GRIDCO, the Association has demanded that proper delegation of authority to the engineers be ensured so that the technical aspect, which is the pivot in electricity, doesn’t suffer further set-back.

Highlighting how the vacancies in the posts of full time technical directors for last five years in GRIDCO has rendered the reform inconsequential, the Association has underlined the need to fill up these vacancies on s.o.s. basis.

It has vehemently opposed official move to delegate any responsibility of OPTCL to Power Grid Corporation of India “since they have done more harm than benefit to the cause of Orissa during their association with the Project Management Unit of GRIDCO for 6 years as consultants”.

Since power sector operation is highly technical, the Boards of both the companies “should have at least two third members drawn from amongst the power engineers” to ensure professional management of the organizations, the Association has demanded.

Er. Prasant Majhi and Er. Biswa Ranjan Mishra, President and General Secretary
respectively of the Association, in submitting their resolution to the CM, have further stressed on adoption of uniform salary revision policy in both the organization as proper incentives to the workforce and have demanded that required money be deposited in the Pension Trust by GRIDCO and OPTCL coupled with State Government guarantee for pension of all employees as per its assurance at the time of subjecting the employees to the Reforms Act, 1996.

But unless the vacancies at the base are filled up in right earnest, the car of progress cannot proceed, they have said. “It is to be realized that power is so essential a commodity that unless sufficient man power is in place, it will become gradually impossible to maintain the system”.

Possibility of a general but indefinite strike looms large if the Government fails to save electricity sector from the atrophy developed due to bureaucratic bungling.

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