As many as 4,057 urban feeders, which track the quality of power supply in 1,388 IT-enabled towns, are not regularly communicating power supply information.
Responding to inadequate and irregular data submissions, the Union power ministry has asked the state-owned electricity distribution companies (discoms) to ‘rigorously’ check information from urban feeders before uploading them in the public domain.
As many as 4,057 urban feeders—which track the quality of power supply in under the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) in 1,388 IT-enabled towns—are not regularly communicating power supply information. About 15% of such feeders (24,537 feeders across 12 major states) have recorded aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses of more than 50% between March 2018 and February 2019, according to letters sent to the discoms from the Centre.
Uttar Pradesh towns such as Gangoh, Bahjoi, Sardhana, Amroha and Tanda have recorded AT&C losses—indicator of discom efficiency and power pilferage—of more than 60%. More than 62% of the feeders in Jharkhard are showing AT&C loss levels of more than 50%. Transaction data for as many as 32.2% of feeders in West Bengal, 31.6% in Uttar Pradesh and 30.8% in Chhattisgarh are not available, the letters, reviewed by FE, revealed.
The Union power ministry has also directed discoms to have a separate IT cadre with adequate staff at appropriate levels to ensure proper upkeep and availability of IT systems. It also advised discoms not to transfer officers involved in implementation of ongoing IT projects sanctioned by the Union government to maintain continuity.
Poor data-management of the state electricity departments have been a longstanding issue. An earlier report on the UDAY scheme prepared by KPMG had pointed out that Union power ministry agencies tend to struggle to reconcile data received from the state-owned distribution companies (discoms). Experts have pointed out that states do not follow uniform formulae and definitions of key parameters and manual data management leads to errors and delays. Inadequate governance, accountability and transparency at discoms and lack of large data-management skills have also been attributed to inferior data quality.
For its UDAY portal, the power ministry has already cautioned the readers to be careful in interpreting the data. The figures are derived from the interim provisional data furnished by the states, which keeps on changing. The Power Finance Corporation has not publicly furnished actual audited data on discom finances after FY16.