Parliamentary panel expresses concern over poor usage of funds for smart meters manufacturing

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Representational Image File: ANI

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has expressed disappointment over the poor utilisation of budgetary allocation of the Centre's National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) and called for expeditious augmentation of smart meters' manufacturing capacity under it, to match their increasing demand.

The panel has also recommended that the quality and reliability of the smart meters should be ensured through their mandatory quality check by independent institutions like the CPRI.

These observations have been made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy, which presented its report on demands for grants of the Power Ministry in the Parliament during the recently-concluded Winter session.

The NSGM was unveiled by the government in 2015 to plan and monitor the implementation of policies and programmes related to smart grid activities in India.

The committee noted with concern that there was an allocation of Rs 40 crore for smart grid for 2020-21, however, the actual utilisation was Rs 16.1 crore only.

It said that this poor utilisation continued in 2021-22 also, as only Rs 2.2 crore could be spent (up to February 15, 2022) against the budgetary estimation of Rs 40 crore.

For the current fiscal, there is a provision of Rs 35.73 crore for the programme, and the panel headed by BJP's Jagdambika Pal said in its report that the funds should be fully utilised under this important head for expeditious augmentation of the manufacturing capacity of smart meters. As per the NSGM guidelines, deployment of smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), development of medium-sized micro grids upto 1MW, and real-time monitoring and control of distribution transformers are the scope of works pertaining to smart grid deployments.

The committee further said that introduction of smart meters marks a paradigm shift in the distribution sector that has the potential not only to ensure the financial sustainability of the DISCOMS but also to empower the end consumers to control their electricity consumption in a hassle-free manner.

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