The Meghalaya Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to clear Rs 565 crore pending power dues of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in 20 instalments, state Power Minister AT Mondal said.
The proposal of the Meghalaya Power department was approved by the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.
Talking to reporters, Mondal said the department has moved the NTPC for negotiation after the power dues rose to Rs 665 crore. If allowed to continue the dues would soon cross Rs 1,000 crore and create a burden for the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL), Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) and also for the state government.
“After negotiation and meetings, they (NTPC) agreed that now we can pay them Rs 565 crore instead of Rs 664 or 665 crore. So we got relief from that point of view but this amount should be paid in around 20 instalments,” he said, adding that NTPC has agreed to waive off over Rs 100 crore and that there is now a possibility of lowering the interest rate as well.
Stating that the MeECL is not financially sound, Mondal said, “That is why the state government has decided that this amount of Rs 565 crore will be paid to NTPC.
“We are still negotiating and NTPC is open-minded on whether this will have to be returned in 20 instalments or we can have some relaxations as far as instalments are concerned so that our instalment burden also reduces… ” he added.
The Meghalaya power minister said that earlier the state government had availed the Atmanirbhar loan and cleared 50 per cent of the accumulated power dues of Rs 488 crore to NTPC.
“Out of Rs 488 crore, we have paid Rs 244 crore and the remaining Rs 244 crore now became Rs 665 crore. If there is no negotiation this amount will continue to go up and up and thereby put us into a financial crisis. To avoid this situation, the cabinet has been kind enough to agree to this proposal of the power department,” he said.
According to him, the situation had arisen due to an agreement signed between the state government and NTPC in 2007.
“NTPC was charging quite high (in terms of) fixed charges. We had approached them for a reduction in interest and fixed charges and all these things and ultimately it did not materialize. After that, we have even moved to the court of law but then as this agreement was executed in letter and spirit even the court has not given a favourable verdict in favour of us,” he said.
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