West Bengal power sector illustrates the difficulties of power reform
The number of electricity connections in West Bengal nearly doubled to 16.37 million from 8.57 million between 2011 and 2016. Distribution transformers too increased by two-thirds to 2,22,000 from 1,34,000 over the same period. A majority of these additions was at the lower end of the consumer base as the government wanted to fulfil poll promises of assuring electricity connections.
However, there is not much to cheer about for the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Electricity Board (WBSEDCL) despite the huge rise in electricity connections. ICICI Securities estimates that West Bengal's Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT & C) Losses are likely to increase to around 30% for FY15-16 as compared to around 25.8% in FY08-19. A weak law and order situation and large scale addition to the lower end of the consumer base only lead to lower collections and electricity theft, according to ICICI Securities. 
West Bengal offers Rs200 crore – Rs250 crore subsidy to low end consumers. However, no subsidy is offered to agricultural consumers. Agricultural consumption of power merely stands at 5%. Industrial power consumption is down due to stress on iron ore businesses and weakness in commodity cycle. There is good demand for power from the service sector led by the Information Technology (IT) sector. Due to cross-subsidisation, industrial consumers in West Bengal need to pay a higher rate of electricity tariff. 
ICICI Securities estimates that state discom's FY15-16 revenue gap is around Rs20 billion. It has a whopping Rs130 billion loan for which WBSEDCL is paying interest at 10.5% p.a. Its debt equity ratio is high at 7.5, which rose from 6.2 in FY12-13. The discom reported marginal profits of Rs20 crore in FY14-15, which fell from Rs82 crore in FY12-13. However, despite these profits, the discom has been marred by large arrears and late payment charges. 
 Discoms in India are reeling under losses and huge debt burden. Their accumulated losses are approximately Rs3.8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of around Rs4.3 lakh crore. As part of the power sector reforms, the Central government has launched, Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), a financial turnaround package for electricity distribution companies. However, West Bengal has not agreed to sign up for UDAY. 


79% passports delayed, Delhi Police verification fastest
It took 71 days to issue an Indian passport in 2014, nearly three times as long as the 24 days fixed by the government, and the police took twice as long as they should (42 days instead of 21) to verify applicants’ information, according to a recent audit report from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
No more than 21% of passport applications were processed that year by regional passport offices (RPOs) within three working days, as they should be after police verification. The proportion of passports processed in time fell from 26% in 2013, the CAG report said.
The audit of 37 regional passport offices (RPOs) was conducted between June 2012 and August 2015.
In 2008, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an information-technology company, signed a deal with the Ministry of External Affairs to speed up passport issue.
The average time for regional passport offices (RPOs) to process passport applications, after police verification, increased from nine days - against the prescribed three days - in 2013 to 16 days in 2014, more than five times longer than it should be.
The national average for issue of normal passports (police verification + processing) was 71 days in 2014 against the total prescribed time of 24 days (three days for processing applications + 21 days for police verification).
“Henceforth, normal passport applications of all first-time applicants furnishing Aadhaar, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), Permanent Account Number (PAN) and an affidavit will be processed on post-police verification basis, enabling faster issue of passport, without payment of any additional fees,” said this statement from the Ministry of External Affairs earlier this year.
Passports issued increased 54% over 5 years
Passports issued increased by 54%, from 5.2 million in 2010 to 8.1 million in 2014.
Average police verification time 42 days, twice as long as it should be
In 2014, police verification of applicants, a key step in issuing new passports, took 42 days, double the time fixed for the process, 21 days, the CAG audit found. This was seven days quicker than in 2013.
The average time declined to 36 days for 2015 for the period for which data were available, January to June.
In Delhi, the police verification process took 12 days, compared to 265 days (9 months approximately) in Assam.
The CAG report also mentioned that the delay in police verification report in some states and union territories was because there was no electronic connectivity with passport offices. As many as 35% of police verifications took more than 180 days.
Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court recommended that the Centre “revisit” its system of applicant checks, noting that even the government admitted to “lacunae in the system” that allowed the use of false or forged documents.
Passport offices received as many as 84,647 complaints in 2014, 63,831 (75%) of which were addressed; 20,816 complaints (25%) remained unattended until the end of the year.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.




Ramesh Reddy Masthipuram

4 months ago

Telangana State Police is the fastest in the police verification part of the issue of passport . The average time taken for police verification is 3 days across the state .
Please check the facts with the MEA before publishing such reports .

Regarding the necessity of issue of passports post police verification, it is advisable to follow this process to prevent those involved in criminal cases and wanted by various courts . Our databases are not integrated I the country and we can do that once our CCTNS project is fully operational
Request to publish a follow up item after you verify the police verification status as on date


5 months ago

Is police verification really necessary? What value they add to the whole process? If a person's biometric can be verified why we need police verification. Police should focus on criminal activities/law & order instead of these clerical activities.


5 months ago

yes ever since passport processing is routed thro TCS there is a noticeable improvement in process as TCS has leveraged its cutting edge technology in tracking the movement of process cycleand keeping the applicant updated


Financejk SUB

In Reply to TIHARwale 5 months ago

You are very right. In Chennai the whole process of renewal of passport was so smooth that I wished all govt agencies learn from these. It just took 1hr 30 mins to finish the whole process. The passport was delivered in just 3 days by speed post. During the whole time periodic intimation about the status of passport printing and despatch. Really at least in one instance I can say incredible India.

Jharkhand to develop defunct mines as tourist spots
Jharkhand's tourism department said on Thursday it is working to develop the closed and abandoned mines in the state into active tourist destinations.
"Mining tourism is to be developed following best practices from other parts of the world," said a statement from the department, citing Director (tourism) Prasad Krishna Waghmare.
"The state government intends to develop closed mines and transform the abandoned mines as a tourist destination."
The move comes after the department studied mining tourism in Australia, Chile, Canada, Norway and other countries.
"This could be a different experience for the visitors and tourists who visit the state. The government is already in talks with several mine operators for the same," Waghmare said.
He said his department has also been working on temple tourism as well as biodiversity tourism as part of a new policy.
There is going to be a development of the medieval terracotta temples of 'Maluti' as a tourist hotspot.
Maluti temples are a group of 78 terracotta temples built between the 17th and 19th centuries in the Maluti village of Jharkhand's Dumka district.
According to officials, Jharkhand has seen a rising graph of visitors from outside the state, from 23,991 tourists in the year 2000 when the state was formed to 33,179,530 (including 1,67,855 foreigners) in 2015.
Jharkhand currently holds ninth rank in the country in terms of visitors, and the state government is committed to take the state to the top of the country's tourist table, Waghmare said.
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.



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