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Unwarranted load shedding to be penalized, it is insult to people: R K Singh

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New Delhi, Jan 18 (PTI) Union Power Minister R K Singh on Thursday said that gratuitous load shedding will be penalized as it is an insult to the people of the country.

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Addressing a review meeting, Singh underlined the importance of making load shedding a thing of the past.

The two-day review, planning and monitoring (RPM) meeting of top power and energy officials of the Centre and states, and heads of state distribution companies started here on Thursday. Officials of central public sector enterprises are also participating in the meeting.

"I do not accept a future where India continues to be a developing country. The difference between this future and that of a developed country is very simple: there is no load shedding in a developed country, every discom has money to buy power, people’s rights are respected and disruption to power happens once in 20 – 25 years. Hence, load shedding will be penalized, it is an insult to the people," Singh said at the meeting.

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He asked discoms to add capacity, sign PPAs (power purchase agreements), ensure resource adequacy and become more efficient.

"We have said that consumers have rights to 24X7 electricity and that if there is any gratuitous load shedding, then penalties have to be levied and compensation has to be given,” Singh said.

The minister also pointed out that while billing efficiency has gone up, collection efficiency remains stuck at 92.7 per cent.

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"The average daily availability of power in rural areas has gone up from 12.5 hours in 2015-16 to about 21 hours now, and in urban areas from around 20-21 hours to 23.8 hours. Energy shortage has come down from 4.5% in 2014 to less than 1% today," he said.

He further said that discoms have reduced the AT&C losses of discoms from 27 per cent in 2015-16 to 15.41 per cent.

“The ACS-ARR (average cost of supply and average revenue realised) gap has gone up from 15 paise to around 45 paise, which is a cause of some concern. Load shedding still happens in some states. Load shedding is going to be history,” the minister said.

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The minister told the gathering that the energy demand of the nation is growing rapidly and that capacities will have to be added in accordance with it.

“The world is evolving in ways which are challenging. After 2030, it will be difficult to install thermal capacity. So, we have to transition fast." "If discoms are not viable, investments will not come, capacities will not be set up, we will not have energy for our growth, we will not be able to pay for electricity, and then, India will never become a developed country. Power regulators or discoms found to be violating the Electricity Act will be prosecuted, we are not going to stop till we make this system viable," he warned.

The Minister asked the states to follow the laws and various rules in order to ensure the viability of the power sector else they will not get any power from the Centre. They will also find difficult to get any loan from PFC or REC.

"If there is any instance of tariff not being up-to-date, tariff not being cost-reflective, or subsidy not being paid, requisite action under the law will be taken. And because we have laid down all these provisions in the law, the concerned people will be prosecuted. We are not going to stop till we make this system viable, till we make India a developed country," the Minister said.

The two-day RPM meeting will discuss matters pertaining to distribution, rooftop solar, green hydrogen, green appliances, PM KUSUM, Rights of Consumer Rules, stage-wise review for projects planned for up to 2029-30, viability of DISCOMs, state-wise review of progress under Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS), state-wise stability of power supply and state-wise detail of steps taken to meet the demand and Resource adequacy, among other. PTI ABI KKS ABI MR

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