The Kerala government is facing trouble over the Centre’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), which envisages pre-paid smart electricity meters in households and revamping the power distributionnetwork in the country.
The Central Government has launched the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) with an outlay of Rs. 3, 03,758 crore for the duration of 5 yearse. from (FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26).
About Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS):
Aim: To reduce the Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses to pan-India levels of 12-15% and Average Cost of Supply (ACS)-Average Revenue Realised (ARR) gap to zero by 2024-25.
The Scheme has two major components:
Part ‘A’ – Financial support for Prepaid Smart Metering & System Metering and upgradation of the Distribution Infrastructure and
Part ‘B’ – Training & Capacity Building and other Enabling & Supporting Activities.
Financial assistance to DISCOMs is provided for upgradation of the Distribution Infrastructure and for Prepaid Smart Consumer Metering & System Metering based on meeting pre-qualifying criteria and achieving basic minimum benchmark in reforms.
Schemes of Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) along with Prime Minister's Development Package (PMDP)-2015 for the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir are being subsumed in this scheme to be implemented as per their extant guidelines and under their existing terms & conditions.
No new projects will be sanctioned under these schemes but projects already sanctioned will be eligible to receive funds up to 31st March 2022 under RDSS.
Implementation: The Scheme would lead to consumer empowerment by way of prepaid Smart metering to be implemented in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode and leveraging Artificial Intelligence to analyze data generated through IT/OT devices.
Significance of the scheme:
For DISCOMs/ Power Departments: They would be able to access funds under the Scheme for Pre-paid Smart Metering, System Metering and Distribution infrastructure works for loss reduction and modernisation.
The financial assistance for Distribution infrastructure works: Under the Scheme, financial assistance would be subject to meeting pre-qualifying criteria as well as upon achievement of basic minimum benchmarks by the DISCOM and evaluated on the basis of Action plans.
How scheme has worked so far?
So far, Sixteen (16) meetings of the Monitoring Committee of RDSS have been convened.
Action Plans and DPRs of 46 Discoms (28 States/UTs) have been approved where about 20.46 crores pre-paid smart consumers meters, 54 Lakh smart DT meters and 1.98 Lakh smart feeder meters have been sanctioned.
What is the issue for Kerala Government?
Kerala has submitted to the Centre a project of 3, 800 crore for distribution revamp and Rs.8, 200 crore for smart meters.
Early this year, the KSEB invited tenders for the first phase of the revamp and for 37 lakh prepaid smart meters.
A single agency was to be contracted for supplying, maintaining and operating the metering infrastructure.
However, no final decision has been taken, amid protests from the trade unions.
Trade unions are opposing the ‘TOTEX model’, in which a private firm installs and maintains smart meters.
The private agency will recover the cost incurred in installments.
The unions fear that the smart meter system will thus pave the way for the privatization of power distribution in the state.