Power plants may get to raise own forces

Power plants may get to raise own forces

New Delhi: After the Mumbai terror attack, the power ministry is looking at allowing all electricity generation and transmission companies it oversees to raise security forces of their own.

“We are planning to call a meeting of all public sector units (PSUs) under the ministry to discuss the options of raising battalions on the lines of what ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd) has done," said a senior power ministry official who didn’t want to be identified.

Assets and personnel of ONGC have been under threat, mainly in some states in the country’s north-east. To address security concerns, some state governments will strengthen safety measures on behalf of the state-owned hydrocarbon company.

“We have signed memorandums of understanding with Gujarat, Assam and Tripura to raise a battalion each of force strength of around 1,100 personnel to protect our assets in these states," said Ashok Kumar Balyan, director of human resources, ONGC.

The PSUs that are expected to attend the meeting to be called by the power ministry include NTPC Ltd, NHPC Ltd, Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd(PGCIL), North Eastern Electric Power Corp. Ltd, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, Tehri Hydro Development Corp. Ltd, Damodar Valley Corp. and Bhakra Beas Management Board.

India has a power generation capacity of 145,000MW. Of this, nuclear and hydropower account for 4,120MW and 35,900MW, respectively. These and transmission projects—some of which are in border areas—have been on the terror threat list.

“We are already being guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel. It is to be seen whether the force to be raised by the PSUs will be given the statutory powers given to the CISF," said PGCIL chairman and managing director S.K. Chaturvedi.

PGCIL manages power transmission in India, and owns and operates around 61,875km of transmission lines. At present there are five regional grids in India and all of them, except the southern grid, are interconnected.

Grid collapse is the worst-case scenario for any transmission utility. If that happens, states that draw electricity from a particular grid will have to go without power.