New Delhi: State Governments of Meghalaya and Assam have become the frontrunners in planning their operational and financial reforms as well as the underlying works towards modernisation and strengthening of distribution infrastructure and improvement of the reliability and quality of supply to end consumers, according to the Power Ministry.
The Ministry had launched the reforms-based and results-linked, Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) with the objective of improving operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of state-owned DISCOMs/ power departments. This was to be done by providing financial assistance to DISCOMs for modernisation and strengthening of distribution infrastructure.
The RDDS has an outlay of Rs 3,03,758 crore with an estimated budgetary support from the Central Government of Rs 97,631 crore, which would be available till FY 2025-26. The State Governments of Meghalaya and Assam have become taken the lead in taking forward the reforms and underlying works under the RDDS, the nodal agency for which is the Rural Electrification Corporation.
Accordingly, their state-level distribution reforms committee and state cabinet have approved the proposals, including the action plan and detailed project report for consideration under the scheme.
The action plans from the states include multiple reform measures aimed towards loss reduction, implementation of smart prepaid metering of the majority of their consumer base, 100% feeder level energy accounting by FY 23, reconductoring of old/frayed conductors, conversion to LT ABC, bifurcation of feeders, segregation of agriculture feeders, and up-gradation of billing and other IT/OT systems, in addition to works towards improving quality and reliability of supply.
Under these plans, the state governments have also committed to ensuring financial viability of the DISCOMS, such as liquidation of outstanding subsidy dues and Government department dues, implementation of tariff reforms, measures to enhance consumer services etc. These proposals would now be put forward to the monitoring committee set up by the Ministry of Power for approval.
The financial assistance is reforms linked and will be based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon achievement of performance benchmarks by DISCOMS which would be evaluated based on an agreed and customised evaluation framework tied to financial and operational improvements. The scheme implementation is based on the action plan worked out for each state to address state-specific issues, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
The key interventions envisioned under this programme include providing support to DISCOMS to undertake activities for ensuring 100% system metering, implementing prepaid smart metering, energy accounting, and implementing infrastructure works for loss reduction, as well as for modernization and system augmentation aimed at improving the quality and reliability of power supply.
In addition, segregation of feeders dedicated only for the supply of power for agricultural purposes, which are proposed to be solarized, will be sanctioned on priority under the scheme.
Several other states are also in the advanced stages of submission of their proposals under the scheme and 39 out of 55 beneficiary DISCOMS have already submitted their draft proposals and are in active discussions with nodal agencies for their finalization.
Given the current state of operational and financial losses of distribution companies and to provide a much-needed fillip to the power sector as well as the overall economy in the pandemic affected year, multiple meetings and workshops with DISCOMS are being conducted to assess their level of preparedness for taking benefits under the scheme by the Ministry of Power and the nodal agencies chaired by Minister of Power RK Singh.