CS-led panel yet to make recommendations to Govt
JAMMU, June 5: An amount of over Rs 300 crore available under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for power sector has remained unutilized during the past over two years as the State Government has failed to finalize the modalities for fast tracking of consumer metering and implementation of Smart Grid Projects.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that under Rs 80,000 crore development package for Jammu and Kashmir announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 an amount of over Rs 300 crore has been earmarked for fast-tracking of consumer metering including their operation, maintenance, reading and billing services and implementation of Smart Grid Projects.
The objective behind consumer metering and Smart Grid Projects is to modernize power distribution network, which will ultimately help in bringing down losses in the power sector. The benefits associated with Smart Grid Projects include more efficient transmission of electricity; quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances; reduced operations and management costs for utilities and ultimately lower power costs for consumers etc.
While under consumer metering entire State is required to be covered, 19 industrial potential towns have been identified for Smart Grid Projects scheme of the Union Ministry of Power.
“What to talk of implementation of the projects, the Government has even failed to work out the modalities in this regard as a result of which entire amount of Rs 300 crore has remained unutilized during the past over two years, sources informed.
Earlier it was decided that consumer metering as well as Smart Grid Projects would be assigned to the Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) but later there was change of thought and it was felt imperative to ensure participation of local contractors as well, they said.
Finally, in order to work out modalities the Government Vide Order No.724-GAD dated April 27, 2018 constituted a committee for fast tracking of consumer metering including their operation, maintenance, reading and billing services in entire State and the implementation of Smart Grid Projects in 19 identified towns.
The committee headed by Chief Secretary and comprising of Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Planning, Development and Monitoring and Power Development Departments was asked to critically analyze the consultancy charges as contained in the proposal and suggest measures to maximize participation of State owned PSUs and local contractors.
Though the committee had to submit its report within a period of one month—by May 27, 2018 yet it has failed to accomplish the assigned task till date, sources said while disclosing that even report has not been compiled so far. “Due to the failure of the Government to work out modalities no time-frame can be specified for start of work on consumer metering and implementation of Smart Grid Projects”, sources said.
“It is a matter of serious concern that despite facing huge losses in the power sector the Government is dilly-dallying on implementation of those projects which will improve the prevailing scenario up to large extent”, they regretted, adding “generally the State takes refuge under non-availability of funds for delay in execution of projects but in this case slackness is prevailing even after availability of sufficient funds”.
Had the issue been decided within shortest possible time much headway could have been made on consumer metering and Smart Grid Projects so far, they further said, adding “it is shocking that no urgency is being shown towards the vital issues of the power sector, which otherwise has been flagged as priority area by the Government”.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary to Government, Power Development Department Hirdesh Kumar Singh confirmed that committee has yet not submitted its report to the Government. “We have held discussions on all the aspects and hopefully within shortest possible time recommendations will be made to the Government”, he added.
In reply to a question, he said, “the recommendations of the committee will be placed before the State Cabinet for final decision and thereafter the process of floating tenders will begin”.