Smart meter project may render 15k jobless in TN: Staff

The project aligns with the state’s policy decision and does not consider alternative options. Once the project is completed, the utility will consider providing alternative work for affected employee
For representational purposes (Photo | P Jawahar)
For representational purposes (Photo | P Jawahar)

CHENNAI: AS Tangedco gears up for smart meter installation, TNEB Employees’ Federation has come forward beseeching the state to reconsider the process. A Sekkizhar, state general secretary of the federation, told TNIE,

“The implementation of smart meters appears poised to displace around 15,000 workers, including assessors, revenue supervisors and assessment inspectors. Neither Tangedco nor the state has extended any concrete reassurance regarding the preservation of these jobs. This compels us to implore the board to rescind its participation in this scheme. Given the current financial challenges faced by the power utility, the ability to invest such a substantial sum in the smart meter initiative raises pertinent questions.”

Kerala has sought more time from the Union government to implement the project. This decision was taken owing to opposition from power sector unions, including the Left and Congress, which fear the potential privatisation of the power distribution sector. In response, Kerala has directed its electricity board to explore the possibility of implementing the project directly. Sekkizhar urged  TN to follow Kerala’s lead and provide job security assurance to workers.

In contrast, a Tangedco official said the utility has initiated the process by inviting tenders for smart meter installation. The project aligns with the state’s policy decision and does not consider alternative options. Once the project is completed, the utility will consider providing alternative work for affected employees.

The Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme, of which the metering programme is a component, mandates the rollout of smart meters through a public-private partnership in TOTEX mode. Tangedco’s goal is to install 2.99 crore smart meters with prepaid functionality for LT consumers.

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