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Manmohan's remark on KSEB contested

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 17. The Prime Minister, Manhohan Singh's reported remark on Wednesday about the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) being a stumbling block to the State's development aspirations has come as a surprise to the KSEB Officers' Association.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, according to media reports, had said that inefficiency of the KSEB was holding back Kerala's industrial progress. He was also reported to have cited certain recent studies as the basis of his observation.

"All KESB employees were taken by surprise by this remark. We do not know which study reports the Prime Minister was referring to and who had prepared them," the association said in a statement today.

According to the association, the reasons for Kerala's backwardness in industries are many. There are several studies on this subject. Experts hold divergent views on why the State is industrially backward.

However, a significant point is that the industries that had been set up in the State over the last many years in spite of the problems here were mostly energy- intensive ones. What prompted them to prefer Kerala was the availability of cheap electricity.

The association noted that the State recorded a quantum jump in installed power generation capacity during the period 1996 to 2001, when the LDF was in control of the Government. Thanks to this achievement, the State continues to enjoy surplus in power availability. Kerala is perhaps the only State in the country, where the industry, agriculture and domestic sector receive power supply without any restrictions. The State is managing without load shedding or power cut.

The association said the Prime Minister's remark reflected the Union Government's desire to see the KSEB split up into smaller entities so as to pave the way for the privatisation of the power sector here.

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