Govt mulls prison term for chief secys for power overdrawal

New Delhi: The government is contemplating levying heavy penalties on states overdrawing electricity that results in grid failure and possible imprisonment of chief secretaries to check the menace.

"I am contemplating now heavy fine and also a provision to imprison authorities and state chief secretaries for disobeying that perhaps we need to enforce it," Power Minister Veerapa Moily told Karan Thapar in `Devil`s Advocate` programme on CNN-IBN.

Over half of the country`s population in 21 states went without electricity for several hours on July 31 as three major transmission grids failed, bringing northern, eastern and north-eastern regions to a grinding halt. The massive failure happened less than 24 hours after the Northern Grid collapsed and was revived on July 30.

Overdrawal of electricity by some states was one of the reasons for failure of power grids on two consecutive days on July 30 and July 31.

Citing the report of the expert panel that probed the failure of grids, Moily said not only overdrawal but overloading was also a reason for the collapse.

"There are various reasons and it is not only overdrawing by some of the states in the Northern Grid but it is also due to overloading from the Western Grid.

"One side, overloading from the Western Grid, second overdrawal here and the combination meant grid collapses for two consecutive days," Moily, who took over as Power Minister earlier this month, said.

According to Moily, there should be independent regulatory authorities at the state-level to check overdrawing by various states.

"We may have to bring some legislation and amendment to the 2003 Electricity Act to ensure that their enforcement powers are really strengthened," he added.