September 2017 News

Uncertainty Looms Large Over Implementation Of PM's Ambitious Power Sector Scheme In J&K

2 September 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of providing round the clock electricity supply to the farmers and rural households may not become reality within the stipulated time-frame in Jammu and Kashmir as uncertainty is still looming large over the implementation of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), which was launched over two years back across the country. This is mainly because of poor planning on the part of Power Development Department, which is repeatedly floating tenders without paying serious attention towards the much needed exercise of revision of scheduled rates. The scheme aimed at carrying out power sector reforms in the rural areas with a view to ensure round the clock electricity supply to the farmers and rural households was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 25, 2015. The DDUGJY, which is one of the flagship programmes of the Union Ministry of Power, was prepared to facilitate 24x7 supply of power. The major components of the scheme are feeder separation; strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution network; metering at all levels (input points, feeders and distribution transformers); micro-grid and off grid distribution network and rural electrification. On August 6, 2015, the Monitoring Committee of Union Ministry of Power approved Rs 619 crore under the scheme for Jammu and Kashmir with the direction to the Power Development Department of the State to promptly take steps for its implementation. Soon after this approval, the PDP-BJP Coalition Government started making tall claims about getting such a whopping amount sanctioned under the ambitious scheme of the Prime Minister. However, much to the surprise of the Union Ministry of Power as well as people of rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir implementation of scheme has yet not begun despite lapse of over two years, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that Jammu and Kashmir is among the very few States in the country which have failed to come up to the expectations of the Union Government. The Power Development Department has floated tenders inviting bids for the execution of works identified under DDGUGJY a number of times during the past over two years but every time the bidders quoted higher rates than the scheduled rates of the Power Development Department. Due to this, tendering process could not be taken to the logical conclusion till date, sources said. 'Instead of floating tenders one after another during the past over two years the Power Development Department should have carried out revision of the scheduled rates so as to get the companies for execution of works. However, this aspect was not seriously pondered upon as a result of which uncertainty is still looming large over roll out of this scheme', they further said while disclosing that Contract Committee of the Power Development Department has the powers to consider revision of cost data. Disclosing that even tendering process for third successive time has failed to yield the positive results, sources said, 'now, the much needed revision of scheduled rates has received the due attention of those at the helm of affairs in the Power Development Department including the Minister Incharge Dr Nirmal Singh and it has been decided that the issue will be deliberated upon shortly at the appropriate forum. However, no time-frame can still be specified for the roll out of scheme in the State'. Since the launch of this scheme by the Prime Minister the Legislators of Jammu and Kashmir cutting across the party lines have been raising concern over delay in awarding the contracts for execution of works but their concerns have remained unaddressed till date because of the failure of the PDD to resolve the prevailing crisis. 'If other power sector entities operating in J&K like Power Grid Corporation of India Limited can get the contractors for execution of their works why the Power Development Department is facing the problem remains a million dollar question', sources said. As per the data of Union Ministry of Power, there are a total of 6337 inhabited villages in Jammu and Kashmir and as on July 31, 2017 a total of 102 villages were yet to be electrified. 'Had the scheme been rolled out timely the number of un-electrified villages could have been reduced considerably', sources remarked. 'No doubt, the Power Development Department has started electrification of these un-electrified villages by engaging its own manpower to meet target of 100% village electrification by December 31, 2017 but the fate of other vital components of DDUGJY will remain hanging in balance till finalization of contracts', they said and hoped that PDD would be able to resolve the prevailing crisis and make allotment of contracts without wasting more time for execution of works.