SRINAGAR: The Union Home Secretary, Ajay Kumar Bhalla, today chaired a high-level meeting with the Chief Secretaries of the Union Territories to review the progress of Smart Metering and power sector reforms.
Chief Secretary J&K, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta along with Principal Secretary, Power Development Department participated in the meeting.
At the outset, Ministry of Power gave a detailed presentation on progress achieved on Smart Metering in the UTs. It was informed that the installation of Smart Meters shall lead to considerable reduction in losses due to improvement in billing and collection efficiency.
The Union Home Secretary observed that implementation of reforms under ‘Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme’ needs to be expedited to improve quality and reliability of power supply to consumers and put in place a financially and operationally efficient distribution sector.
It was informed that a total of 20 lakh smart meters will be installed in Jammu and Kashmir. While installation of 8 lakh smart meters in J&K has been sanctioned under PMDP/DDUGJY&IPDS, 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 utility billing system.
It was further informed that user acceptance testing is presently underway and shall be completed by 16.10.2021.
The Chief Secretary, J&K, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta informed that out of 10600 meters supplied, 5000 meters have been installed as on date. He assured that the Government is on course towards installing 1 lakh meter each in Jammu and Kashmir by March 2022.
Dr Mehta further observed that if 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 achievements of the milestones in the Schemes.
Dr Mehta assured that the Government of Jammu & Kashmir will fully support the executing agencies in their efforts to meet the project timelines.
Earlier, the Chief Secretary also participated in a meeting chaired by the Union Home Secretary to consider resumption of foreign travel to India on tourist visa.
Welcoming the idea of resuming foreign tourism before the winter season, Dr. Mehta informed 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 double jab certificate and have taken RTPCR test during the last 72 hours.
Dr Mehta stated that allowing entry of foreign travelers in J&K would not be a problem, especially as around 90 % of the people associated with tourism and hospitality sectors have already been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“Resumption of travel by foreign tourists will provide much needed succour 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 Gulamrg and other scenic winter spots in UT”, he added.