Consumer Issues
MERC puts 300 units cap for switchover from RInfra to Tata Power

Only those residential category consumers whose average monthly consumption over the previous 12 months is up to 300 units a month, shall be eligible to changeover from Reliance Infra to Tata Power, the MERC said

Mumbai: Electricity regulator Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) in an order said consumer migration from Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) to Tata Power Co (TPC) will be allowed only for residential customers using up to 300 units a month, reports PTI.
"Consumer changeover will be allowed from RInfra to Tata Power only for the residential category of consumers and that too only for the consumers who consume electricity up to 300 units a month," MERC said in the order.
RInfra had filed a petition before MERC seeking relief on account of certain issues affecting its customer base and financial viability due to switchover by consumers to Tata Power.
"The Commission has come to the conclusion that there is a need to intervene in the manner of changeover and switchover of consumers, as being undertaken by the parties.
"There is a need to calibrate the migration of consumers from one licensee to another, to ensure a level- playing field and also to protect the interests of low-end consumers being supplied electricity in the common area of supply between RInfra and TPC," the order said.
"For identifying the target segment for consumer changeover, only those residential category consumers whose average monthly consumption over the previous 12 months is up to 300 units a month, shall be eligible to changeover from RInfra to TPC." 
However, the regulator noted the restriction shall not apply to pending applications for changeover, irrespective of consumer category and consumption slab, which will be processed as per the earlier protocol approved in the interim order dated 15 October 2009 and changeover for eligible consumers shall be done in a smooth manner. 
"This order would help 22 lakh low end residential consumers of suburban Mumbai. Owing to inadequate cross subsidy, many high end consumes, who were subsidising low end consumers and keeping the tariffs low, were migrating," the RInfra spokesperson said.
The electricity regulator had observed that for all consumers, who have changed over before the order or who have already applied and are eligible for changeover, the supply will be given by Tata Power using the RInfra network till such time as Tata Power develops its own distribution network in the area.
"The MERC has maintained our right to switch consumers to our wires and also suggested parallel network in 11 clusters for direct consumers, which is a positive development. Tata Power is studying the order and would always be happy to serve the customers with fairness and transparency," Tata Power statement said further.
The Commission in its order had said it would monitor the progress of consumer addition by Tata Power (switchover and new connections) on quarterly basis, and both RInfra and TPC would be required to submit the desired information for every quarter.
RInfra supplies power to Mumbai's suburbs and surrounding areas like Mira Road and Bhayander in adjoining Thane district. Tata Power and state-run utility BEST cater to consumers in South Mumbai with the former also supplying in the suburbs.


Syndicate Bank, IDBI MF in distribution partnership

Syndicate Bank CMD MG Sanghvi said the latest initiative will help the bank ramp up fee-based income, with its branches catering to various investment needs of the customers

Mumbai: Public sector lender Syndicate Bank has tied up with IDBI Mutual Fund (MF) to distribute their mutual fund products in a bid to expand the product offerings, the bank said, reports PTI.
"Our bank has taken a lot of initiatives making a separate vertical for mid-corporate and fee-based income. This tie-up with the asset management companies is one such initiative to provide customers a wider range of investment options, other than the regular banking products," Syndicate Bank chairman and managing director MG Sanghvi said.
He also said the latest initiative will help the bank ramp up fee-based income, with its branches catering to various investment needs of the customers.
On the new tie-up, chief executive officer of IDBI Mutual Fund, Debasish Mallick, said partnership with Syndicate Bank would help his organisation reach out to more customers.
Referring to expansion plan of the public sector lender, he said Syndicate bank has plans to expand its branch network to 3,000 from 2,707 with a total business reaching Rs3.5 trillion in the current financial year.
The bank has also started a special current account, savings account (Casa) campaign.
It will also soon resume gold coin sales along with launching of gift cards.


Coal Bed Methane: A blow out?

Difficult compliance requirements in coal mines, where the mining operations are in full swing, have led to blowing away coal bed methane at a great loss to the exchequer. The coal and petroleum ministries ought to work out strategies to prevent this colossal waste

There is something radically wrong in our bureaucratic system of governance. Somehow or the other, each ministry, instead of working together, is bent upon being a stumbling block in the national development.


There can be no businessman who can say, without fear of contradiction that his project went through like a shot, for he followed, in letter and spirit, all the laid down rules and that he faced no stumbling blocks and no palms were greased! We all look forward to this day!


Take a look at the issue of coal bed methane (CBM). According to press reports, ONGC has so far spent some Rs600 crore since 2008 and got a measly revenue of Rs3 crore from CBM from the Jharia fields. The company has openly stated that it faced one bureaucratic hurdle after another and got nowhere.


Meanwhile, it has been simply using fans to blow away coal bed methane (CBM) worth millions of rupees. Why ONGC alone?  In fact, all the coal mines in operations just do the same! What a national colossal waste?


The importance of CBM is evident from the fact that there are 220 CBM projects in operation in 14 countries with Australia being singled out as a very successful miner in this area.


Coal India, on the other hand, has categorically advised the coal ministry that it cannot extract CBM because it has to comply with the Coal Miners Act and also be able to meet the rules pertaining to price and allocation directives of the petroleum ministry. 


Why can’t the coal and petroleum ministries sit together and bring about the required amendments to the existing rules that govern their inter-related operations, and frame a single regime that can be applied simultaneously without conflict of interest?


At the moment, because of the difficult compliance requirements in all the coal mines where the mining operations are in full swing, we are simply blowing away CBM at a great loss to the exchequer. Only a guesstimate can be made of this loss and that too, notionally!


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)


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