Srinagar: More consumers are shifting to digital to pay their power bills in Jammu and Kashmir as the Power Development Department (PDD) is working on war-footing to shift to paperless, consumer friendly and automatic systems.
The change has been visible in the recent past with data showing nearly 279% increase in digital transactions in the first quarter of the present year over the corresponding period last year.
Consumers paid over Rs 35 crore in bills through digital modes during the period making J&K PDD among the discoms fastest to shift to digital systems in India.
Following the encouraging response, PDD is now planning to adopt a 100% paperless billing system by the end of this year, officials told The Kashmir Monitor.
The department’s data centre at Bemina here is quite an active place these days as experts work hard to move from the traditional systems to providing contemporary, at-your-fingertips customer solutions.
The Department has undergone a massive IT infrastructure change in the last 18 months with focus on digitalising consumer service systems.
“We are encouraging people to pay digitally. Our portal Bill Sahuliyat provides 600 different channels through which consumers can pay their bills. All banks, UPI, and other digital payments gateways are already on board,” Principal Secretary Power Development Department Rohit Kansal told The Kashmir Monitor.
The portal, he said, also allows consumers to check the status of their respective transformers.
“We are soon going to start sharing with consumers information about outages. Besides, we have installed meters on our feeders which will ensure real time data sharing with our data centre helping us monitor losses,” he said.
By the end of 2021, Kansal said, the department will completely shift to paperless billing.
“We will shift to paperless billing and ensure consumers are able to get their bills through email or WhatsApp. It will promote transparency and also lead to faster payments,” he said.
On Sunday, Kansal chaired a major meeting on at the Data Centre to review the progress of various IT projects being carried out in the power sector and for strengthening IT and Communication Services.
PDD is also working on Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) project. Once set up, SCADA will enable PDD to do real-time monitoring and control of various feeders in Srinagar and Jammu cities to begin with.
“Once SCADA is on, if there is a fault in any feeder, we will know it right away and can even isolate the areas from our data centre,” he said.
Apart from SCADA, PDD is handling various ongoing digital projects including RAPDRP, RT-DAS, installation of smart metering, Feeder Metering, UID of Distribution Transformers, Billing & Collection, Customer Care, JKPDD e-support.
Customer satisfaction, Kansal said, is the top priority of the department.
During the meeting, he impressed upon the officers for integrating customer care numbers in a single call centre for better resolution of complaints through a unified software.
“Grievance redressal mechanism should be made more prompt and all the grievances received through other means apart from social media platforms too must be integrated with the call centre,” Kansal told the officers.
He also said that regular monitoring of progress of the call centre should be done regarding the complaints received and their disposal and MIS reports of complaints should be forwarded to his office on monthly basis and regular monitoring should be done at other levels.
The department has seen unprecedented investment in infrastructure improvement in the past two years.
Emphasizing that the credibility and strength of the department lies in transparency, the Principal Secretary said that consumers should be actively involved and made part of the system and data regarding billing, curtailments, power consumption should be shared with them.
He also added that repeatedly damaged transformers should be flagged and the public should be informed about the reasons for the damage. He also said that DISCOMS should migrate to e-support services for utilizing the tracking mechanism of transformers in order to have quick repairs and replacements.
Regarding the asset mapping, it was given out in the meeting that asset mapping of 647 feeders has been completed and marking of assets like poles and substations is complete. Each asset is coded to indicate inventory origin and destination of supply. Principal Secretary directed that asset mapping of feeders has to be updated and upgraded on a continuous basis.
Maintaining that all the websites of JKPDD have to be compliant and consistent with government standards he said that all the websites of PDD should be parented to the main website. He further added that consumer oriented services should be available across all the websites of PDD and all should be cross linked.
Regarding the completion of various projects like SCADA, he said that it is a prestigious project and has to be completed within the stipulated time frame.
He directed the officers to work out a plan for upgradation of IT systems and phase it out based on the need and vulnerability of existing systems and processes. He also directed them to make solid use of e-support as it is a one stop shop for all DISCOMs related activities.