Debashis Sarkar, director (technical), Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL) has 35 years of experience in the energy and natural resources industry, in the areas of operations, maintenance and restructuring. He specialises in market entry, process transformation and audit strategies for utilities looking for licensing of distribution areas from state discoms. He has worked with various distribution companies in senior management roles.
On the current state of the sector, Sarkar says, “The power sector, mainly distribution, is in the doldrums. The government is putting pressure for privatisation, and the state utilities are firmly opposing it. The hard fact is that most state utilities are in a mess from a financial perspective and are not paying their dues to gencos. They are taking loans from REC and PFC to repay their dues, but the loans are never repaid and ultimately get converted into grants. The main purpose of implementing different central government-aided schemes was a reduction in AT&C losses, which has not yet been achieved by most state utilities.”
According to Sarkar, the biggest issue in the distribution segment is operational inefficiency, leading to uncontrollable AT&C losses. Unless these are reduced to below 15 per cent, it is difficult to make the business viable. “The installation of prepaid and smart meters is a solution to reduce commercial losses. Meanwhile, to reduce technical loss, proper network planning is required,” he adds. Creating ownership amongst employees is another big challenge, and due to the absence of continuous and promising career opportunities and performance-based reward schemes, employees disown their responsibilities, impacting utility performance. Good teamwork accompanied by able leadership can revive the fortunes of utilities, he says.
Looking back, Sarkar recalls his most memorable assignment as the time when he was manager at Torrent Power, Bhiwandi, from 2007 to 2011. “I had joined Torrent Power after spending 17 long years in an established company like CESC in my hometown. Bhiwandi is the first private franchise business in India, and it is still the most successful story in this business. I am glad for having been a part of this success in the initial four years,” he says.
Sarkar believes in inclusive management. He says that even the most difficult job can be executed if all team members work in sync. In terms of qualifications, Sarkar is an electrical and electronics engineer from Jadavpur University.