Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), renewing its efforts to privatise Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (Cesu), substantial debts and arrears of the utility have emerged as biggest roadblocks as well as concerns.

As the OERC issued a notification inviting bids to sell-off debt-ridden Cesu, the Electricity Consumer Association claimed that it as an attempt by the state government to save its face.

“No one is accountable for such huge debts so only the consumers are going to suffer. The state government is intentionally trying to pass on the burden of liabilities to general people and we strongly condemn it,” president of Electricity Consumers’ Association, Ramesh Satpathy said.

It is important to note that earlier, the Central Electricity Supply Company of Odisha Limited (Cesco) managed by American power giant AES, was the power supplier in the central and coastal parts of Odisha. However, after the 1999 super cyclone, AES quit the management of the company.

Later Cesco was renamed as Cesu and the OERC took over the management of the power utility in 2005 with a 51% share.

The utility is carrying a debt burden of Rs 2000 crore while outstanding arrears pending from various categories of consumers are to the tune of Rs 1600 crore.

Saddled with huge debt and arrear burden, the OERC has made multiple failed attempts to privatise Cesu since taking it over in 2005.

With OERC taking another shot at privatising Cesu, experts are concerned over how the arrears and debts will be managed and whether it could lead to additional burden on the consumers in terms of hike in power tariff.

Similarly, more than 7,000 employees under three sections of the utility -Cuttack, Paradip and Dhenkanal – are also staring at an uncertain future.

On the other hand, Odisha Energy minister, Prafulla Mallick said that no formal decision has been taken yet to sell shares of Cesu to private parties.