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Power workers feel cheated by VRS

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, FEB. 25. As many as 6,210 employees, who had recently opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) offered by the three discoms managed by private companies, are suddenly feeling cheated.

Yet to receive the monetary benefits they were promised by the discoms when they were offered the VRS, the retired employees allege that the Delhi Government and the discoms have washed their hands off the issue. "We are virtually on the road. No job and no money. This is a big fraud perpetrated on us,'' they alleged.

The retired employees accused both the Delhi Government and the discoms of fighting among themselves on the issue and delaying the payment of their dues while they were struggling to feed their families.

While the Delhi Power Minister, Haroon Yusuf, insisted that the liability would have to be paid by the discoms and the Delhi Government had no role to play in it, the three discoms in a recent letter to the Delhi Government have reiterated their earlier stand that they were under no obligation to pay for the liabilities on account of VRS.

While the BSES has a liability of Rs. 553.47 crores (as 4,364 employees had opted for the VRS), the North Delhi Power Limited has a liability of Rs. 242.56 crores (as 1,846 employees had taken VRS). Mr. Yusuf said, however, as this is "our social obligation, we recently had a meeting of the affected parties. It has now been decided that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission would decide on the issue. The DERC has already been approached in this regard.''

However, Rajan Gupta, a former member of the Delhi Electricity Consultative Council, alleged that all this was being done to delay and finally end up in non-payment of dues. "It is a criminal offence being committed by the Delhi Government and the discoms as well. I would take them to the court,'' he said.

The charges are denied by the discoms, which argued that the dues should be paid by the Pension Trust. Any additional liability on the discoms would result in burden on the consumers, which would be reflected in a tariff hike, they argued. In a letter dated February 9, the BSES had refused to release the fund required to pay to the retired employees. Referring to the SBI Caps report, it argued that a sum of Rs. 1,329.10 crores was to be deposited towards the pension and terminal benefits liability, which was to be deposited before the actual implementation of the transfer scheme.

"The Delhi Government has already deposited an amount of Rs. 860 crores to the fund. It has guaranteed to meet any shortfall in the Trust at any stage. It is to ensure that the pension and terminal benefits of the DVB employees are secure after the transfer,'' the letter said.

The NDPL in its letter dated January 31, 2004, said any shortfall in the initial funding would correspondingly increase the burden on the discoms and if the "shortfall was not made up by the Government pursuant to the guarantee under the Trust deed, the same would have to be borne by the consumers of Delhi through tariff.''

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