Patiala, February 6
After an assurance by the state government to clear Rs 1,800 crore per annum for next five years, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has been granted a loan of Rs 9,641 crore for the installation of smart meters.
The PSPCL has been allowed to strengthen infrastructure for the loss reduction in a time bound manner under revamped distribution sector scheme (RDSS) of by the Power Finance Corporation (PFC).
The project cost of smart metering works is Rs 5,768 crore with a grant of Rs 875 crore from Central Government. An additional incentive of Rs 85 crore will be given on completion of the project in defined time period. The project cost for strengthening the infrastructure for loss reduction is Rs 3,837 crore with a grant of Rs 3,199 crores.
This loan, however, comes with a rider that the state department must clear arrears of subsidy amounting to Rs 9,020 crore, along with pending electricity dues from government departments of Rs 2,548 crore, to the PSPCL.
“The government has agreed to clear these dues by financial year 2025. In case these dues are not paid as per the agreed schedule, the PSPCL will not be able to qualify for grant under the scheme. In case of installation of prepaid meters, the government will bear the cost initially, but it will be recovered from consumers over five years,” said a senior government official.
As per the PSPCL website, the state government is yet to pay subsidy of Rs 4,870 crore for the period up to January 15 this year. The total subsidy due, including arrears of previous years on January 15, is Rs 20,587 crore.
The subsidy for the current financial year is Rs 24,865 crore, including Rs 9,020 crore of pending arrears.
“We have got an assurance that Rs 1,800 crore will be released per annum for the next five years to ensure that arrears pending against subsidised power are cleared,” said a top PSPCL official, privy to the matter. “Clearing all pending dues and ensuring that no government department remains a defaulter is the basic rule to qualify for this central scheme.”
As the Punjab Government is supplying free or subsidised power to most consumers, including industry, agriculture and domestic consumers, it must ensure consumers should clear their dues in time to save the PSPCL,” said VK Gupta of the All-India Power Engineers Federation.
Experts in the power sector confirmed that the move is important for a state like Punjab, where government departments have over Rs 2,000 crore power dues and power worth over Rs 1,200 crore is stolen every year.
A senior government functionary confirmed that the government had agreed to install prepaid meters outside its offices.
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