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Orissa power reforms take a hit as people refuse to pay dues   Sources - 5th March 2013, Indian Express

Refroms in the state power sector seem to have hit a major roadblock with people in Dhenkanal and Angul districts demanding the cancellation of an MoU for smart energy management signed by the state-owned power utility and Enzen Global, which has its headquarters in Bangalore.

Aiming to cut down the Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C) losses, the Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) last year signed an MoU with Enzen Global entrusting the latter with tasks like checking power pilferage, maintenance of low transmission line, meter-reading and bill collection in the Dhenkanal electric circle. But since November 1 the day from which the company was supposed to start work locals in Dhenkanal and Angul districts refused to allow the company to function alleging that the entry of Enzen would lead to a sudden hike in power bills.

In the last 3 months, people from the two districts have called several bandhs and ransacked officers of CESU and Enzen.

"I don't know why there is misgiving and apprehension about us. We have come here to invest and provide good quality power to customers in villages," said Satheesh Kumar, chairman-cum-managing director of Enzen Global, in an interview to The Indian Express.

CESU chief executive officer Sudarshan Nayak said, "It's not as if we are doing franchisee-based operations for the first time. We had given the opportunity for billing and collection to SHGs and others in 2005. Enzen was brought in as the efficiency attained by the previous franchisee was not upto the mark."

Currently, the aggregate technical and commerciallosses in the state are over 40 per cent. Kumar said when Enzen took charge in November last year, the aggregate technical and commercial losses in Dhenkanal electrical circle was 61 per cent with one division showing 64 per cent loss.

Besides, the revenue realisation per unit of power was around 80 paise less than the bulk supply price of Grid Corporation of Orissa.

"Like Karnataka where we are saving over one million units every year, through use of technology and smart practices, we have set a target of bringing the loss to a level of 15 per cent within 60 months in Dhenkanal," he said.

The CESU CEO said vested interests, such as SHG groups and people who refused to pay their power bills, were behind the hurdles to reforms. "The allegation that Enzen can raise the bills by remotely operating the meter is a bogus argument. No such meters have been installed," he said.

With protests halting Enzen's work in Dhenkanal, CESU has now deployed its own skeletal staff to collect dues from February.

Officials at both Enzen and CESU said that the disruption in Enzen's operations in Dhenkanal has led to a loss of over Rs 18 crore.