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Pay part dues, Supreme court tells Delhi’s power firms

The Supreme Court Thursday asked Delhi’s private power distribution companies BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna to pay Rs.25 crore and Rs.20 crore to the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) by Nov 30 as an ad-hoc payment to partly clear their arrears for the electricity supplied to them.

An apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya said that the payment would be besides the current charges they would be paying for the bills raised by the DVC.

The court declined the plea of senior counsel Shyam Divan, appearing for BSES Yamuna, that the current charges should be based on the power drawn by them and not on the bill raised by the DVC.

The court said that if both the discoms wanted to re-negotiate the contract for the supply of the power with the DVC then they could do so.

The court’s directions came on a hearing on a public suit on the power crisis in Delhi. The two companies contended that they were running up huge losses.

“You are not indispensable,” Justice Jain told senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for the BSES Rajdhani.

The court’s remark followed Rohtagi’s submission that “If I (power company) am to go then there is no alternative.”

The senior counsel told the court that BSES Rajdhani was running up losses of hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees and was not in a position to pay up.

“Shall we take it that you don’t want to pay,” the court asked, to which Rohtagi replied: “How can I tell the Supreme Court that I will not pay?”

“All I am saying is that we can’t pay. We are not in a position to pay,” the senior counsel told the court.

When Rohtagi referred to the balance sheet of the company, the court said that it was not inclined to go into the technicalities of the matter and only wanted to know what amount the two power companies could pay to the DVC.

When Rohtagi said that “kindly allow me to pay 10 percent of my dues as I am in difficulties”, the court said “don’t invite observations on how balance sheets are made”.

“We have seen the balance sheets and the advisory how they be made. We care not using the particular term (on how balance sheets are made),” the judges said.

Appearing for the DVC, Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval told the court that 60 percent of the cost of each unit of power that was being charged from the two firms went into meeting the cost of coal used in generating electricity.

Raval told the court that the power companies could not be allowed to render as sick the state-owned DVC and those supplying coal.

The case would next be heard Dec 8.

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