Talking about innovations in power distribution, Ramesh Bhatia calls for trying out ideas such as making village panchayats responsible for power distribution. “Bulk power could be supplied to a person (as in China) or a community organisation which, in turn, is responsible for its distribution and collection of revenues,” he writes in one of the essays included in ‘Handbook of Water Resources in India’ (www.oup.com).
As a part of the Orissa power sector reforms, village committees have been set up in a number of villages to facilitate interaction between utility and consumers, grievance redressal, bill distribution, metering, and cash collection, the author notes. “Such village committees are expected to perform like a cooperative where they will be billed based on transformer readings and entire responsibility for collection will be transferred to them.”
Another example in the book is from Gujarat, where for handing over distribution system to local bodies/ consumer cooperatives, MoU has been signed among GEB, GERC, and IRMA for a pilot project given to IRMA for feasibility study and identification of cooperatives in each of the five zones of GEB.
If the village buys power in bulk and retails it to its members, the transaction costs of power supply can be reduced dramatically, Bhatia suggests.
Multi-village piped water scheme
To those who wonder if community efforts can succeed, here is an instructive snatch from another essay in the book ably edited by John Briscoe and R. P. S. Malik. Four villages (viz. Lat, Latwadi, Shivnakwadi, and Shiradwad) of Shirol taluka of Kolhapur district in Maharashtra have been operating and maintaining an economically viable multi-village piped water scheme for about twenty years; and the joint water management body of these villages has a huge total revenue surplus!
The multi-village piped water scheme was built in 1980 by the Government of Maharashtra and later taken over by this village group. The scheme started with 419 households and over the next two decades has extended to cover more than 1,700 households, the essay informs.
Keywords: Water supply