In a reprieve to residents of Delhi, the Supreme Court on Friday directed NTPC not to cut power supply till March 26 to Reliance Group-owned power distribution companies for not clearing outstanding dues of over Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion).
The apex court also directed BSES to pay Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) within two weeks and posted the case for final hearing on March 26. Till then, state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation will continue to supply power.
Observing that it is the consumers who suffer due to fight between two firms, a bench headed by Justice S S Nijjar directed the NTPC not to discontinue the power supply till the matter is heard.
The distribution companies had on Thursday approached the Supreme Court against NTPC's notice threatening to cut off power supply for not clearing outstanding dues.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the distribution companies, submitted that Delhi government is not paying Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion) which it owed to the firms.
He said that the recent move of the Delhi government to audit the firms is politically motivated and he won't mind if the distribution companies are nationalised.
The bench then observed that the amount of Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) which is to be paid to NTPC is a small amount for Reliance.
"You won't go bust by Rs 300 crore. We are sure that you will be able to pay the amount," the bench observed.
NTPC had last week issued notices to BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna on the issue of payment security mechanism and non-payment of outstanding dues to the state-run company.
After issuing notices to them on February 1, NTPC had on February 4 said unless its dues are cleared, the company may have to stop power supply to these discoms.
These bills, due to BSES Rajdhani and Yamuna, are for the amount of power consumed in December and billed in January to be payable by January-end.
NTPC had said that currently there was no letter of credit available for the two companies. The present allocation of power to BSES Rajdhani from NTPC stations is l,26l MW and for BSES Yamuna it is 811 MW.
The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity had directed Delhi power regulator DERC not to take a final decision on revoking the licences of BSES discoms without its permission.
In an interim petition, the BSES discoms has sought the intervention of the apex electricity tribunal on the issue.
BSES Rajdhani distributes power to over 18.5 lakh customers in south and west Delhi, including Alaknanda, Vasant Kunj, Saket, Nehru Place, Nizamuddin, Sarita Vihar, Hauz Khas, R K Puram, Janakpuri, Punjabi Bagh, Tagore Garden, Vikas Puri, Palam and Dwarka, according to its website.
BSES Yamuna has 13.5 lakh customers in central and east Delhi, including Chandni Chowk, Daryaganj, Paharganj, Shankar Road, Patel Nagar, Krishna Nagar, Laxmi Nagar, Mayur Vihar and Yamuna Vihar.
(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty)