Discoms in Rs 300 cr financial fudge

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Bhubaneswar: In a startling revelation, an audit conducted by Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco) has revealed that transactions worth more than Rs 300 crore done by the Electricity department exist only on paper.

The audit followed an exclusive report aired on OTV that unearthed a major bungling of public money to the tune of Rs 480 crores by the electricity department in the name of security deposit.

Initially, the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) in its tariff order audit, found out that funds worth Rs 480 crores are untraceable.

After the investigative story by OTV, Gridco conducted a fresh audit, which has now revealed that out of the Rs 480 crores, the transfer of Rs 111 crores to four distribution companies (Discoms) exist only on paper.

While the books of accounts show that the amount was transferred to the accounts of Cesco, Southco, Wesco & Nesco, the actual movement of funds never happened. The balance sheets of all the four Discoms show that Cesco’s Rs 17.77 crores, Wesco’s Rs 46.5 crores, Southco’s Rs 18.8 crores and Nesco’s Rs 27.7 crores were never credited to them.

The four Discoms were formed in the year 1999 and taking into account the interest on the Rs 111 crores shown as transferred to the discoms, the total amount of the untraceable funds stands at a staggering Rs 300 crores.

“When the Discoms were set up, a book entry transfer of Rs 111 crores was done but there were no cash transfers. Over a period, the accounts vanished and we never made any cash transfers and subsequent adjustments were made. We have been paying interest since the past 15-16 years on the same amount. In total, the money involved is now around Rs 300 crores,” Bibhu Prasad Mohapatra, CGM, Finance, GRIDCO said.

The irregularity came to fore during an audit by the OERC, which showed the security deposit amount of 59 lakh consumers across the State up to March 31, 2014 (as per audited balance sheet of Discoms) was Rs 1544.47 crores. Of the whole amount, Wesco, Nesco, Southco and Cesco had deposits of Rs 500.84 crores, Rs 418.15 crores, Rs 133.30 crores and Rs 492.18 crores respectively.

However, as the audit found out that after seven months, i.e. as on October 31, 2014, the total amount of the Discoms had inexplicably come down from Rs 1544.47 crores to Rs 1064.51 crores, a difference of Rs 480 crores. The report further said, by October end, the four Discoms had cash deposits of Rs 466.88 crores, Rs 354.10 crores, Rs 35.80 crores and Rs 207.83 crores respectively.

Gridco, giving details of the untraceable Rs 480 crores, said that Rs 300 crores was spent on asset transfer between the Discoms, while Rs 180 crores was on account of Discoms’ bill payment, salaries and repairs.

However, the Electricity Consumers’ Association has not rejected Gridco’s calculation and has demanded a CAG audit of the whole matter.

“The details furnished by Gridco don’t tell the full story and we demand an Audit by the CAG,” said Electricity Consumers’ Association president Ramesh Satapathy.

“After removing Rs 300 crores from the calculation, Rs 180 crores should be have been deposited in the bank account by the Discoms. As everyone is aware, in the meantime, the licences of three discoms has been revoked. The companies are now under different management and we are trying to replenish the funds in some way or other,” said Mohapatra.

Notably, every year the Discoms should refund Rs 114 crores to the consumers as accrued interest on collected security deposits. But in the light of fresh revelations, it is now obvious that this has not been done.

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