Power purchase: House panel pins Shobha for causing Rs 1,046 cr loss

Report says as energy minister she favoured JSW Energy Ltd

Power purchase: House panel pins Shobha for causing Rs 1,046 cr loss

In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move, a Legislative Assembly committee headed by Energy Minister D K Shivakumar on Tuesday indicted BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje for causing a loss of Rs 1,046 crore by favouring a private firm when she was the energy minister in the BJP government.

The House committee set up to look into irregularities in power purchases between 2004 and 2014, has recommended "appropriate probe" into Shobha's actions when she was the energy minister in the government headed by B S Yeddyurappa. The committee tabled its report in the Assembly on Tuesday.

The report is seen in the political circles as a counter to the BJP, which had recently accused Shivakumar of being involved in a Rs 447-crore coal scam.

In 2009, the state government initiated the process of long-term (25 years) purchase of 2,000 mw from private companies. Five companies made bids, and this was placed before the Cabinet for final approval in May 2011. This included JSW Energy Limited, which quoted Rs 3.812 per unit for 25 years.

"The then energy minister Shobha Karandlaje opined that the per-unit cost that companies quoted was more compared with that of other states. Hence, the tender was cancelled. Subsequently, the government purchased power from JSW Energy at high rates and not Rs 3.812 per unit it had earlier quoted," the report states.

From 2011 to 2013, a total of 12,038.75 MU was purchased from JSW Energy costing Rs 1,046 crore. Power was purchased at Rs 4.41 to Rs 4.99 per unit during this period, the report observed.

The committee also flagged a land deal involving the same company. "When seen in the backdrop of power being purchased at a high cost, it is suspicious that JSW Energy purchased land by paying more than what it was valued at," the report said. However, it has not mentioned the details of the land deal.

The committee has also observed that JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy as the chief minister in October 2007 caused a loss of Rs 63 crore by approving an inflated contract for transportation of coal. Also, in 2007, the government purchased 40,195.31 mu power at a cost of Rs 7,882.92 crore. The very next year, the government purchased 41,821.26 MU for Rs 10,664.32 crore - an additional Rs 2,781 crore.

Interestingly, the committee has not recommended any probe into irregularities that have happened during Kumaraswamy's tenure as the chief minister. His elder brother H D Revanna was the energy minister then.

Also, between 2002 and 2008, the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) incurred a loss of Rs 1,590.31 because of coal washing contracts. From 2004 to 2014, the state government failed to utilise 3,844 MU supplied from central power plants costing Rs 899.50 crore. In the same period, the state lost 1,05,508 MU in transmission losses.

All put together, irregularities in power purchases have caused Rs 6,379 crore losses.

"The committee recommends the government to identify those responsible for causing losses to the exchequer and initiate action against them."

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