KSEB smart meter project put on hold in Trivandrum over trade union disputes

Accordingly, the government entrusted the KSEB to take a call on avoiding the PIA and also to decide on how the tender applications should be initiated.

Published: 12th April 2023 11:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2023 11:22 AM   |  A+A-

As electricity is the prime driver of State’s development, the government has attached high priority on the uninterrupted power supply.

Image used for representational purpose (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with stiff opposition from trade unions, Power Minister K Krishnankutty has directed to put on hold the tendering process for KSEB’s smart meter project. The trade unions, including the CITU, met the chief minister and power minister on Tuesday and  urged them to stop the tendering process. The TU leaders told the CM and the power minister that they will be forced to go on an indefinite protest, if the move is not dropped.   

The tug of war between the trade unions and the power ministry has been going on for over six months now on the Rs 8, 200-crore smart meter project. From day one, the trade unions in KSEB were against the TOTEX model (total cost of expenditure combining capital expenditure and operational expenditure) in implementing the smart meter project for fear of privatisation. They urged the state government to cancel the agreement with Project Implementation Agency (PIA), Rural Electrification Corporation Power Distribution Company Limited (RECPDCL). The trade unions’ demand was that the state government should utilise the indigenous technology developed by C-DAC. 

Accordingly, the government entrusted the KSEB to take a call on avoiding the PIA and also to decide on how the tender applications should be initiated. Thus a five-member technical subcommittee was constituted comprising the vice-chancellor, Digital University, Kerala, Strategic Consultant, Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council, executive engineer, Kerala Startup Mission, KSEB director (distribution, supply chain management and IT) and chief engineer (IT, Customer Relations and Centrally Aided Projects).

The main concern of the government was whether the KSEB would lose the funding by the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS) if they initiated the smart meter project directly. But trade union leaders vouched that the board will get only 7.5 % subsidy from RDSS and not 15 % as claimed by the Centre. Though the expert committee recommended to form a special purpose vehicle to implement the smart meter project, the state government did not accept the proposal.  

“The state government did not address the concerns raised by the trade unions. When a dispute arose, they formed an expert committee. But their recommendations were not considered when the trade unions decided to step up their protests which saw the power minister intervening in the issue”, Elamaram Kareem, CITU national secretary told TNIE.

KSEB Officers Association president M G Suresh Kumar told TNIE that it was just a matter of time the state government calls off the tendering process. “On Tuesday, we approached the chief minister and power minister and expressed our strong displeasure. We informed them that we will be forced to go on an indefinite protest as it will affect the consumers big time”, said Suresh Kumar. 


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