Chandigarh’s ₹241-crore smart-meter project to see delay due to labour exodus
The city-wide project was approved by the central government in March just before the lockdown was imposed for the containment of Covid-19Updated: Jun 01, 2020 04:27 IST
Large-scale labour exodus amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown is set to delay the start of the recently approved pan-city smart-meter project in Chandigarh.
The Rs 241-crore central government project envisages installation of 2.5 lakh smart meters for electricity connections in the city.Currently, the UT engineering department is implementing a pilot project of installing 25,000 smart meters in a few localities.
The city-wide project was approved by the central government in March just before the lockdown and curfew was imposed for the containment of Covid-19. All civic and developmental works came to a standstill after the imposition of the curfew orders.
“After the lockdown relaxations were introduced, we had expected the work to start. But as soon as inter-state movement of migrant workers was allowed, most labourers left for their hometowns, leaving a labour shortage in the city. This will hit the start of ambitious smart-meter project,” said a senior UT official, requesting anonymity.
ONLY 500 METERS INSTALLED SO FAR
The department is already struggling to implement the pilot project of installing 26,000 smart meters in few selected pockets across the city.
In the first phase of the Smart Grid Project, in October 2018, the department had allotted the work for installing smart meters in Sectors 29, 31, 47, and 48, six villages -- Faidan, Ram Darbar, Hallomajra, Raipur Kalan, Makhanmajra, and Daria-- and the Industrial Area.
The pilot project was to be completed by June 2020, but, so far, only 500 smart meters have been installed. “Labour shortages are hampering of the pilot project too,” said the official.
ESSENTIAL FOR LAUNCHING PRE-PAID SERVICES
The new system will be beneficial both for the department and consumers.
The new meters will send immediate tamper alerts to the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) centre, and allow the department to keep a track of load, voltage, outages, peak demand and consumption across the city. Besides, the power control room will also receive immediate alerts in case of tripping in main lines.
Residents will benefit as smart meters will allow prepaid services to be started. “Consumers will be able to opt for pre-paid services, such as in case of like a mobile services, for electricity consumption. Instead of paying bi-monthly bills, they can now pay only for what they expect to consume,” said the official.
Significantly, in its latest report, the joint electricity regulatory commission (JERC) had directed the department to expedite the process of procurement and installation of smart meters. The department acquired 5,000 meters recently for the pilot project.
Under the smart grid project, approved by National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM), the UT administration has planned to install smart electricity meters, which are part of power sector reforms. JERC had sought a progress report on Smart Grid project from the department.