Soon, prepaid power meters at Punjab govt offices : The Tribune India

Soon, prepaid power meters at Punjab govt offices

Move aimed at cutting losses of PSPCL as many departments fail to clear pending dues

Soon, prepaid power meters at Punjab govt offices

Following repeated delays on the part of government departments to clear pending dues despite consuming power worth hundreds of crores, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) will soon install prepaid meters at all government offices.



Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, November 27

Following repeated delays on the part of government departments to clear pending dues despite consuming power worth hundreds of crores, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) will soon install prepaid meters at all government offices. The move is aimed at cutting losses of the PSPCL and to “ensure that government departments consume power as per available funds”.

The PSPCL should install prepaid meters on priority basis on the premises of all defaulters, be it private or government sector. VK Gupta, Spokesperson, 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 “the project can help curtail losses and stop power theft” as the government departments will now have to recharge their meters before start of the month.

A senior government functionary confirmed that the government has agreed to install prepaid meters outside government offices in the first phase. The government has agreed and the Power Finance Corporation has agreed to extend the loan to Punjab, he said.

Earlier the Union Ministry of Power, in its March 10 letter to the Principal Secretary (Power), said: “Punjab has not yet prepared a roadmap for the installation of prepaid smart meters”.

Fund-starved states would need Rs 8,000 crore to implement the scheme, with only 15 per cent of it coming from the Centre. “However, we have moved in the right direction by starting from government offices,” said a top PSPCL official.

Another PSPCL functionary said: “An ordinary meter costs between Rs 550 and Rs 1,500, while the cost of a smart prepaid meter is in the range of Rs 5,500 to Rs 7,000. The government will bear the cost initially, but it will be extracted from consumers over five years.”

To date, Punjab has refused to install prepaid meters across all consumers in spite of launching the smart meter project. With a consumer base of more than 1 crore, the state loses Rs 1,200 crore through power theft every year.

According to PSPCL officials, state government departments owe PSPCL more than Rs 2,000 crore and the PSPCL is not able to disconnect the supply for non-payment of its dues as most of the categories fall under emergency supply.

Meanwhile government departments claim that they do not have sufficient funds, “allocated regularly for clearing bills”.

“As Punjab Government is supplying free or subsidised power to most of the consumers, including industry, agriculture or domestic consumers, it must ensure consumers should clear their dues in time to save PSPCL,” said All-India Power Engineers federation, spokesperson VK Gupta.

The PSEB Engineers Association, the largest body of PSPCL engineers, has also backed the move and is already demanding that government departments should clear dues on time. “Installing pre-paid meters is a step in the right direction,” they have said.

Depts owe PSPCL over Rs 2,000 crore

  • According to PSPCL officials, state government departments owe the corporation more than Rs 2,000 crore. The PSPCL is not able to disconnect the supply for non-payment of its dues as most of the categories fall under emergency supply
  • Major defaulter departments include the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation (around Rs 1,000 crore), Department of Local Bodies (around Rs 700 crore), Department of Rural Development and Panchayats (around Rs 250 crore) and Department of Health and Family Welfare (around Rs 100 crore)

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