Total dues owed by electricity distribution companies to power producers fell 3.4 per cent to Rs 78,379 crore in March 2021 as compared to the year-ago period, showing a reversal of discoms' growing outstandings.
Outstanding dues of discoms towards electricity producers have been increasing year-on-year as well as month-on-month for years showing perennial stress in the power sector till February this year.
Distribution companies (discoms) owed total Rs 81,116 crore to power generation firms in March 2020, according to portal PRAAPTI (Payment Ratification And Analysis in Power procurement for bringing Transparency in Invoicing of generators).
The dues in March also declined from Rs 98,673 crore in February and Rs 99,023 crore in January this year.
The PRAAPTI portal was launched in May 2018 to bring in transparency in power purchase transactions between generators and discoms.
In March 2021, the total overdue amount, which was not cleared even after 45 days of grace period offered by generators, stood at Rs 67,417 crore as against Rs 68,587 crore in the same month a year ago.
The overdue amount stood at Rs 84,478 crore in February and Rs 85,490 crore in January this year.
Power producers give 45 days to discoms to pay bills for electricity supply. After that, outstanding dues become overdue and generators charge penal interest on that in most cases.
To give relief to power generation companies (gencos), the Centre enforced a payment security mechanism from August 1, 2019. Under this mechanism, discoms are required to open letters of credit for getting power supply.
The Centre had also given some breathers to discoms for paying dues to gencos in view of the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The government had also waived penal charges for late payment of dues. In May, the government announced Rs 90,000 crore liquidity infusion for discoms under which these utilities would get loans at economical rates from Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and REC Ltd. This was a government initiative to help gencos remain afloat.
Later, the liquidity infusion package was increased to Rs 1.2 lakh crore and further to Rs 1.35 lakh crore. Under the liquidity package, almost Rs 80,000 crore has been disbursed.
Discoms in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu account for the major portion of dues to gencos, the data showed.
Overdue of independent power producers amounted to 52.5 per cent of the total overdue of Rs 67,417 crore of discoms in March 2021.
The proportion of central PSU gencos in the overdue was 30.82 per cent.
Among the central public sector gencos , NTPC alone has an overdue amount of Rs 5,021.76 crore on discoms, followed by Damodar Valley Corporation at Rs 4,888.16 crore, NLC India at Rs 3,534.78 crore, NHPC at Rs 1,453.31 crore and THDC India at Rs 1,147.82 crore in March 2021.
Among private generators, discoms owe the highest overdue of Rs 18,407.76 crore to Adani Power followed by Bajaj Group-owned Lalitpur Power Generation Company at Rs 4,817.12 crore and SEMB (Sembcorp) at Rs 2,375.80 crore in the month under review.
The overdue of non-conventional energy producers like solar and wind stood at Rs 11,242.39 crore in March 2021.
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