Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) has planned to install 2.99 crore prepaid smart meters household consumers. Smart meters are being installed under the Central Government’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme which the mandates the rollout of smart meters through a public-private partnership in TOTEX model. Under the TOTEX (Total capital and operation expenditure) model, a private company is given the contract to install prepaid smart meters and maintain and operate them for ten years. The total expenditure per meter is Rs 8000 to 9500.
TNEB Employees’ Federation has asked TANGEDCO to reconsider the decision of installation of smart meter as it will take away jobs of a large number of employees.
A Sekkizhar, state general secretary of the federation, said, “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.”
Power employees in some other states too have expressed their concern about impact the prepaid smart meters installation will have on existing employees.
The plan is to install 25 crore prepaid smart meters in the country. So far the Central Government has sanctioned nearly 23 crore smart meters to various states. All states together have already given contracts to private parties for 5,04,60,479 meters as of 25 August 2023. Some of the country’s biggest power players like Tata Power and Adani Power have won these contracts. Prepaid smart meter projects have become another big source of profit for them as the value of contracts awarded so far already is Rs 40,000-45,000 crore.
As per the Ministry of Power data, nearly 70 lakh smart meters have already been installed in the country.