Union Urges Chief Minister intervention as electricity board’s RDSS scheme raises financial burden
Shimla, July 4
The implementation of the Central Power Distribution System (RDSS) scheme by the Electricity Board is causing concern among electricity consumers in the state. Kameshwar Dutt Sharma of the employees union in a media communiqué argued that the scheme, including the “Smart Metering” and “Power System Improvement” components, will lead to a substantial financial burden on consumers and the government. Private companies are submitting tenders that exceed the approved budget, leaving consumers responsible for covering the additional costs, he added. The Union representing the consumers is urging the Chief Minister to reconsider the scheme in the best interest of the state’s population.
The RDSS scheme’s first phase, “Smart Metering,” approved at a budget of Rs 1800 crore, has attracted tenders totaling approximately Rs 3000 crore from private companies. However, the central government will only provide Rs 400 crore, leaving the remaining Rs 2600 crore to be borne by state electricity consumers. This additional cost is projected to lead to an increase of Rs 125 per month in electricity rates.
Similar concerns are being raised regarding the proposed tenders for the second phase of the RDSS scheme, “Power System Improvement.” With a budget of Rs 1800 crore, tenders are expected to reach Rs 3000 crore. The central government will contribute only Rs 1620 crore, leaving a burden of Rs 1380 crore on the state’s consumers. This is anticipated to result in an increase of Rs 80 per month in electricity rates, he informed.
The grant of Rs 2000 crore proposed for the RDSS scheme will only be accessible if the established targets are met. However, there are doubts about achieving these targets, potentially converting the grant into a loan. Consequently, the burden of the remaining amount, approximately Rs 4000 crore, has already been shifted to the state’s consumers. This will lead to a total increase of Rs 205 per month in electricity rates, significantly impacting consumers.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the efficiency of the smart metering project based on a pilot project in Paonta, costing Rs 32 crores. The project has demonstrated a high failure rate, with only 50% of the meters sending data as intended. Given this, critics argue that implementing the Rs 3000 crore smart meter scheme is inappropriate. The Union alleges that certain officers within the management are presenting misleading information to the government, potentially driven by personal interests.
The Union is demanding that the Chief Minister take a signed affidavit from these officers, affirming that the implementation of the RDSS scheme will benefit the electricity board and the people of the state, and that they are prepared to compensate for any future losses resulting from it.
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