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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Dark patches of manpower shortage over electricity dept

Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, April 03, 2014
First Published: 08:13 IST(3/4/2014) | Last Updated: 10:13 IST(3/4/2014)

The electricity department is making make do with a mere 58% of the sanctioned staff with 961 employees against the total sanctioned strength of 1668. This even as the last sanction for officer level manpower was provided in 1992 and there has also been no change in the existing management structure of the department.

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However, the department has witnessed significant growth in the load and the number of connections over the past 20 years. The electricity load has increased three times and the number of connections has gone up by almost 80%.

There are nearly 2 lakh consumers of which 1.75 lakh are in the domestic category.

The figures came to light after a study conducted on the directions of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) on the manpower and the future load growth.

The study has pointed out that due to shortage of staff, the department has been struggling on both commercial and power supply front. Aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses are at 20% which is high in comparison to utilities in cities with similar consumer profile, the study shows. There are 30-40 complaints received at a sub-division.

Preventive maintenance hit
Preventive maintenance has been hit due to the staff and equipment shortage. It is difficult to pinpoint faults. At the sub-division level, the manpower is being used for operations in transmission and distribution network.

Meter testing is also hit as the existing metering sub-division has been burdened with the additional responsibility of four 66 KV sub-stations. Meter reading is currently being carried in house. Linemen and assistant linemen are also being used for meter reading, making the process prone to errors and having an adverse impact on revenue realisation.

UT Powermen Union general secretary Gopal Datt Joshi said that due to shortage of staff, there was little focus on maintenance, leading to frequent breakdowns and supply -related issues, during the peak summer hours.

The field staff is also ageing, leading to issues in proper maintenance of lines.

Joshi claimed that the linemen and the assistant linemen needed to be valued a lot more. "Around 60% linemen are retiring over the next five years," he cautioned.

UT superintending engineer MP Singh said that he was aware of the situation and the restructuring process of the department has been started.

"For providing the best service to consumers, we need proper staff," said MP Singh.

SHORTAGE

Total sanctioned:              1668       present:  961

Chief engineer:                       1               0

Superintending engineer          1              1

Executive engineer                10             5

Assistant executive engineer     23        15

Issues faced

Aggregate commercial and transmission losses of up to 20%

Little preventive maintenance leading to increase in frequency of faults in summers.

Existing meter-reading setup is prone to errors. No check on the quality of bills generated.
Complaints have increased.

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