The existing electronic power meters will be replaced with as many as 20 lakh smart meters in Jammu and Kashmir to check electricity leakage.
This was informed by the chief secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, and Principal Secretary, Power Development Department, Rohit Kansal in a high-level meeting chaired by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla who reviewed the progress of smart metering and power sector reforms.
The officers informed the Home Secretary that installation of 8 lakh smart meters has been sanctioned under various central schemes and the remaining 12 lakh meters will be sanctioned under the ‘Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme’ for which the requisite preparatory work is currently underway.
It was informed that IT hardware has been supplied and installed in Data Centre in Srinagar and Data Recovery Centre in Jammu, besides integrating the system with the utility billing system. It was further informed that user acceptance testing is presently underway and shall be completed by 16 October.
Mehta said that out of 10,600 meters supplied, 5000 meters have been installed as of date. He assured that the government is on course towards installing 1 lakh meters each in the Jammu division and Kashmir valley by March 2022. Installation of smart meters shall lead to a considerable reduction in losses due to improvement in billing and collection efficiency.
The Union Home Secretary observed that implementation of reforms under the ‘Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme’ needs to be expedited to improve the quality and reliability of power supply to consumers and put in place a financially and operationally efficient distribution sector.
Mehta further observed that if the installation of smart meters could be completed in the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, the UT would have more or less achieved the targets set forth under the schemes as most of the power is consumed in these two capital cities.
The Union Home Secretary while agreeing with Dr. Mehta’s observation advised him to extend full support to the executing agencies for timely achievement of the milestones in the Schemes.
Earlier, the chief secretary also participated in a meeting chaired by the Union Home Secretary to consider the resumption of foreign travel to India on a tourist visa.
Welcoming the idea of resuming foreign tourism before the winter season, Mehta said that the COVID situation in Jammu and Kashmir is by and large under control and that subject to Covid protocols, foreign travelers can be allowed to visit J&K if they possess a double jab certificate and have taken RTPCR test during the last 72 hours.
He stated that allowing entry of foreign travelers in J&K would not be a problem, especially as around 90 % of the people associated with the tourism and hospitality sectors have already been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“Resumption of travel by foreign tourists will provide much-needed succor to the UT’s tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. J&K would welcome foreign tourists particularly in the winter as several activities are being planned during the upcoming winter season in Gulmarg and other scenic winter spots in UT”, he added.