A new burst of budgetary energy

The announcements made in the Union budget to boost bottom lines in the energy economy, improve urban air quality, and rev up climateaction need to be fast-tracked.

Faster implementation is warranted given, say, the worsening finances of power distribution companies (discoms). Almost three decades after putative power sector reforms, the stodgy state power utilities, the vertically integrated state electricity boards (SEBs), may have been gainfully broken up into separate entities for generation, supply and distribution to shore up muchneeded transparency.

The move, though necessary across states, is not sufficient. The rising outstanding dues of discoms to power producers are currently reportedly over Rs 80,000 crore, and rising.

The rampant revenue leakage nationally needs to be urgently tackled.

To step up collections of reasonable user charges across the board, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has rightly called for replacing conventional energy meters with prepaid smart meters in the ‘next three years’. But surely, we can do better.

The way forward is to garner the necessary political will to speedily instal and universalise tamperproof digital meters with focused policy action.

ET news
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