TN to move SC over power crisis
Opposition flays Jaya’s extraordinary move to get electricity from NCT
Upping the ante on the severe power crisis dogging Tamil Nadu, the Jayalalitha-led Cabinet on Saturday took a stunning decision to move the Supreme Court to ensure that the state’s rightful share of power from the Central pool was obtained in the light of the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT) planning to surrender some 1721 mw of electricity from Central generating stations for five months from November 1.
The Cabinet meeting, presided by chief minister Jayalalitha, resolved to approach the Supreme Court to press this demand in the wake of Tamil Nadu facing one of its worst power shortages in recent years to the extent of 4000 MW daily. This comes a few days after the chief minister wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking his intervention to allocate the entire 1721 MW to be surrendered by NCT to Tamil Nadu.
The state Cabinet resolution based its decision on the argument that the Central government and the Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) had a responsibility to allocate the required power for Tamil Nadu from the Central pool and also ensure that the allotted quantum of electricity was delivered to the state. Presently, Tamil Nadu is unable to import power from other states, to partly tide over its daily crisis including even those quantities contracted with states like Gujarat, due to hectic congestion in the power transmission corridor.
This is perhaps the first time that a state government will move the apex court to secure its rightful share of electricity from the Central pool. Jayalalitha has emphasised that while Article 301 of the Constitution has enjoined that trade, commerce and intercourse throughout the territory of India shall be free, Article 131 has empowered the states to file a case in the Supreme Court in the event of any dispute between the Centre and one or more states.
The cabinet also noted with concern that after Jayalalitha wrote to Singh on this issue, the Union minister of state for power K C Venugopal had said moving electricity in bulk from the Northern Grid to the Southern Grid is not feasible now until the HV (high voltage) transmission lines were set up. Tamil Nadu had contracted to buy 1100 MW of power from other states but PGCI had not acted to help evacuate that power through its network, the Cabinet noted.
The AIADMK Government’s unusual move was lambasted by the opposition in the state. DMK President M Karunanidhi said it was pointless for the chief minister to keep attacking the Central government on this issue without taking well-planned steps in consultation with the state electricity board engineers and other experts to overcome the power crisis.
“The daily power deficit was not so bad during the previous DMK regime and we had initiated several new projects to add to the state’s installed capacity,” Karunanidhi said rebutting Jayalalitha’s charges that the DMK and the Centre were responsible for the power scenario mess.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President B S Gnanadesikan also dismissed CM’s charges against the Centre as baseless.