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Power sector reforms figure in tenth mid-term appraisal meeting

G. Srinivasan

It was pointed out that aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses could come down to around 20 per cent over the next two to three years if distribution transformer level accountability is put in place with staff being goaded with carrot atick.

New Delhi , Feb. 14

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today conducted a review meeting on the various suggestions of the Mid-Term Appraisal (MTR) of Tenth Plan (2002-07) with the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Discussions were held on areas such as power and water sector reforms, ending Inspector Raj and how to get the National Horticulture Mission going.

Sources in the Government told Business Line here that the Prime Minister chaired the meeting in which selected action points for implementing the recommendations of the Mid-Term Appraisal made by the Planning Commission last year emerged for micro-level management.

The sources said that on the issue of power sector, the Accelerated Power Development & Reform Programme (APDRP) came in for deliberations. It was stated that poorly prepared project reports, lack of baseline data on distribution losses, billing/collection efficiency and lack of incentives for State Electricity Board staff to cooperate could be the reason for ARDRP not delivering results.

It was pointed out that aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses could come down to around 20 per cent over the next two to three years if distribution transformer level accountability is put in place with staff being goaded with carrot and stick.

On the issue of APDRP restructuring entailing automated meter reading (AMR) of each distribution transformer, bifurcation of feeders (BOF) for agricultural pumping and other domestic, industrial and commercial loads and geographical information system (GIS) mapping and classification of all connections, the sources said that these jobs could be outsourced so that they could be done progressively in 12 months.

The idea is that if these things are put in place, energy flow balance for every distribution transformer every month could be identified and thefts or losses in each circle could be quantified. It was stated that baseline data could be built within three months of a circle completing AMR, BOF and GIS and putting loss data periodically on Web site, with names of circle officers could act as a deterrent.

The sources said that the Plan panel is in favour of providing 100 per cent Central funding as loan in support for AMR, BOF and GIS with a rider that one per cent loan would be written off for every 5 per cent of circles where AMR, BOF and GIS are completed and baseline generated. Water policy: On pricing of water, it was noted that fixing of water rates for irrigation and water supply is under purview of State Governments. The Twelfth Finance Commission had recommended Rs 600 per hectare for operation and maintenance of major and medium projects and Rs 400 per hectare for minor projects.

The likely solution to the sensitive issue of water pricing, the sources said, could be a menu of options. One is to promote Gujarat model of Participatory Irrigation Management (PIM), which empower user associations to collect tariff, raise tariff and retain part of it. Another is to offer more incentives to States to set up regulators raise water tariff and switch over to volumetric supply and more allocation to system rehabilitation in State budget.

On the action point for national projects, the Plan panel deems priority to international and inter-State projects, lower priority to intra-State projects and Nabard assistance for loan component and linkage to a package of reforms. Horticulture mission: On the National Horticulture Mission it was stated that out of Tenth Plan outlay of Rs 2,300 crore, the annual plan for the current fiscal has been provided at Rs 1,091 crore with the proposed outlay for next fiscal being pegged at Rs 1,209 crore.

Operational guidelines have been circulated and action plans had been approved for 18 States.

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