Consumer Forum Fears Backdoor Privatisation

Power watchdog yet to okay smart meter in user premises

By VIRENDRA SINGH RAWAT

LUCKNOW, Oct 23 (The CONNECT) – Leading corporate groups including Adani, GMR and L&T have bid for the supply of about 25 million prepaid smart electricity meters in Uttar Pradesh.

The competitive bidding floated by the state power distribution companies (discoms) is estimated to be worth Rs 25,000 crore.

According to sources, four private companies viz. Adani Group, GMR Group, L&T and Intellismart Infra, a joint venture company of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), are in fray for the high value project.

Interestingly, none of these companies are the manufacturers of smart meters, and would plausibly sublet for the supply of the gadgets to other companies once they bag the contract.

Moreover, the scheme of installing prepaid meters at the premises of the power consumers has still not passed the muster of the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) while the UP discoms have gone ahead with the competitive bidding.

While part I of the bidding process (technical bids) is over, the part II (financial bids) would be undertaken in due course.

Meanwhile, UP power consumers’ forum has challenged the bidding process before the UPERC alleging discrepancies and breach of the relevant laws and rules.

“The bidding process would stoke privatisation of the state energy sector through the backdoor,” forum president Avadhesh Kumar Verma alleged.

He lamented it was for the first time in India that none of the bidders for the supply of electricity meters were original manufacturers of the component.

Verma claimed the bidding terms were deliberately tweaked to favour the corporate groups, and keep the smart meter companies at bay.

“Besides, the tender is for the supply of 4G smart meters even as the 5G technology has been successfully launched in the country,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, a major portion of the cost of the prepaid meter is expected to be borne by the power consumers since the central government subsidy on the scheme is only about 10 percent.

“We will fight for securing the rights of the power consumers before the UPERC and other platforms,” he announced.