J&K soft-paddling on launch of Union Govt’s ambitious power sector scheme

Feb 22: Notwithstanding the fact that lakhs of households in rural areas of State continue to remain un-electrified, the Power Development Department is soft-paddling on the launch of Union Government’s ambitious scheme aimed at 100% rural electrification despite availability of sufficient funds. The intensity of the dilly-dallying tactics can be gauged from the fact that even Project Management Consultancy (PMC) has not been engaged, which otherwise is pre-requisite for kick-starting the scheme.
The scheme titled Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) was launched by the Government of India to initiate much awaited reforms in the rural areas. It focuses on feeder separation (rural households and agricultural) and strengthening of sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure including metering at all levels in rural areas.
This is aimed at providing round the clock power to rural households and adequate power to agricultural consumers. The earlier scheme for rural electrification viz. Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) was subsumed in the new scheme as its rural electrification component.
Under this ambitious power sector scheme, the Union Government sanctioned 21 projects costing Rs 619.67 crore for Jammu and Kashmir. Of this amount, Rs 69.2 crore was sanctioned for feeder segregation, Rs 86.53 crore for electrification works, Rs 96.38 crore for metering, Rs 357.47 crore for Rural House Holds and system strengthening, Rs 7.01 crore for Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) and Rs 3.08 crore for PMA charges.
However, the scheme failed to take off in any of the rural area of the State despite lapse of several months and availability of funds mainly because of dilly-dallying approach of the Power Development Department, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“What to talk of initiating other steps pre-requisite for launch of the scheme, the department has even failed to engage Project Management Consultancy till date”, they said, adding “without engagement of Project Management Consultancy no step can be initiated towards implementation of the scheme as several vital aspects are required to be looked after by the consultancy besides providing necessary guidance to the Power Development Department”.
Due to delay in launch of the scheme, 3.56 lakh households in rural parts of Jammu and Kashmir continued to remain without electricity, sources said while disclosing that out of these 3.56 lakh un-electrified households, majority are to be covered under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana and only 0.27 lakh are to be covered under other works presently under execution but not completed till date.
According to the official data, there are total 6337 inhabited villages in Jammu and Kashmir as per Census 2011 and of these there were 134 un-electrified villages as on March 31, 2015. During the period between April 1, 2015 and February 1, 2016 the Power Development Department succeeded in electrifying only 26 villages. Remaining 108 villages have yet not seen the electricity.
Pointing towards electrification of only 26 villages during a span of nearly one year, sources said, “on one side there is slackness in electrification work and on the other side no serious attention is being paid towards the launch of ambitious scheme of the Union Government”, adding “there cannot be any justification behind delay in engagement of Project Management Consultancy especially when funds are available for providing electricity to the lakhs of rural households”.
During the previous PDP-BJP Government, the Ministers remained busy in boasting of about extension of ambitious scheme’s benefit to Jammu and Kashmir but there was no focus on ensuring its immediate launch to provide benefit to the rural people, who are still clamoring for electricity.
When contacted, Chief Engineer, Power Development Department, Ashwani Gupta admitted that funds have been released to J&K for implementation of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana. He, however, said, “some procedures like engagement of Project Management Consultancy are required to be followed and such steps usually take time”.
Failing to specify any time-frame for launch of the scheme, he said, “I hope we would be able to ensure its launch in April-May this year”. From the words of the Chief Engineer, it can easily be gauged that lakhs of rural people will remain deprived of benefit of Union Government’s scheme in the near future also.

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