A day after it was reported that Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s ambitious plan to turn the three Raj Bhavans in the state into the country’s first ‘green’ gubernatorial residences has run into trouble with the state government, Maharashtra Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule promised to resolve the dispute after a meeting with officials from the energy department next week.
On Tuesday, The Indian Express reported that the Raj Bhavan had installed a 1-megawatt solar power plant on its Pune premises that was inaugurated in November last year by the Governor and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The power plant was set up to make the Raj Bhavans in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur “self-reliant in power”. The installed capacity of the plant is 16,64,400 units per year, while cumulative annual power consumption in the three Raj Bhavans is 8,15,397 units.
The Governor had directed Principal Secretary (Energy), Arvind Singh, to devise a scheme, whereby MSEDCL would have access to the total amount of power generated by the plant and in return the three Raj Bhavans would not be required to pay for the electricity supplied to them. However, the MSEDCL’s proposal submitted on August 11, 2017 was to purchase power at Rs 5.13 per unit, with accelerated depreciation for 13 years as fixed by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC), which was not in line with the Governor’s direction.
“I have called a meeting of officials from the energy department on September 11 to discuss issues pertaining to the plant. Also, we will discuss devising a policy for the sale and purchase of power from the Raj Bhavan plant,” said Bawankule.
Sources in the Raj Bhavan said the energy department and MSEDCL were forcing them to agree to a power purchase agreement, as the authorities are not keen on devising a policy as suggested by the Governor. “We want to see Raj Bhavan turning into a Green Raj Bhavan. We have requested the government to take a policy decision in this case. The policy decision can be taken for all government buildings and not just for the Raj Bhavan to promote such initiatives. But the energy department has maintained silence on devising such a policy,” said an official at Raj Bhavan.
The official added that the government could make or amend the law to allow such an initiative. “But the energy department’s silence on drafting such a policy leads to suspicions that private players’ interests are being considered,” said the official.
Meanwhile, it the contractor who installed the solar power plant has complained to Raj Bhavan over the delay in releasing payment for the same, a sum of Rs 1.29 crore. “The contractor has completed the work long back, but his payment has not been released citing administrative reasons. This is nothing but harassment. We are following it up with the energy department,” said a Raj Bhavan official.
Dr Vipin Sharma, Director General of the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency that was entrusted with the job of installing the solar power plant, was unavailable for comment on the delay.