Move Aimed To ‘Arrest T&D Losses, Curb Power Theft’
Srinagar, Jan 7: After failing to bring down Transmission and Distribution (T&D) losses in the State, the Power Development Department has decided to outsource distribution of electricity across Jammu and Kashmir by establishing franchisees.
The PDD, according to official sources, has roped in some private players to carry out electricity distribution in a bid to reduce the ‘rising’ T&D losses. “Yes, we have decided to privatize distribution of electricity in the State,” said a PDD officer, insisting not to be named. “We would be allotting specific areas to specific franchisees that would be responsible for collecting power dues from the allotted areas. They would also help in checking power theft and misuse of electricity.”
In this regard, the PDD, according to sources, had arranged a requisite training camp for the aspiring franchisees at the Kashmir Government Polytechnic College Srinagar. The programme was carried out with the assistance of the Central Institute of Rural Electrification (CIRE), Hyderabad for unemployed degree and diploma electrical engineers.
Pertinently, the PDD is the sole deemed licensee for supply of electricity in Jammu and Kashmir. The department purchases power from various sources including the central Public Sector Undertakings and the J&K Power Development Corporation.
A senior PDD official said the government is “under pressure” to arrests T&D losses. “It remains to be seen how successful it would be after setting up of the franchisees,” the official said.
Despite receiving grants from Government of India for arresting T&D losses, the State has failed to show any notable improvement. The losses were highest (65.78 percent) for 2009-10, 60.99 percent for 2010-11 and around 59.72 percent for last fiscal.
“The J&K Government has faced embarrassing moments many a time before the Planning Commission of India for failing to arrest the T&D losses. The State has failed to meet the guidelines set by the Union Power Ministry to bring down the losses by three percent annually,” the official said.
Officials said there are two models of distribution franchisees. Revenue Franchisee and Input-Based Franchisee. “The Revenue Franchisee happens to be responsible for billing, revenue collection, complaint redress and also facilitating release of new connections,” they said. “Such franchisee will be given target by the PDD for revenue collection every month. A given margin could be slapped as penalty on a franchisee if the targets are not achieved.”
Elaborating further, officials said, “Input-based revenue franchisee is similar to collection based revenue franchisee, except that the target for setting of such franchisee is based on the energy supplied by the utility at 11 kV feeder or distribution transformer.”
President Self Help Group of Engineers, Syed Pervaiz Safvi, expressed gratitude to the PDD for outsourcing power distribution. “But the department has kept the eligibility for franchisees open, which is a matter of concern for the Self-Help Group of Engineers,” he said.
He said the SHG engineers must be preferred for the proposed tasks in view of the huge unemployment problem in the State. “Hundreds of electrical engineers having degree and diploma are roaming from pillar to post for a job. It is better if the government creates avenues for them like the PDD franchisees,” he said.