Special Correspondent

Panchayat-level power-line survey under TESM

Delay in starting power-line survey

300 panchayats have joined the programme

KANNUR: Even as the delay in starting the panchayat-level power-line survey under the Total Energy Security Mission (TESM) has raised concern over the lack of clarity in the initiative, the first power-line mapping conducted in the Kalliassery grama panchayat here years ago is said to have yielded a methodology that can be replicated in other local bodies with some modifications.

The Kalliassery Total Energy Programme (KTEP) was a major initiative under the panchayat resource mapping programme launched by the Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishad (KSSP) in association with the Centre for Earth Science Studies and the Kerala State Land Use Board in 1991. The KTEP, aiming at making Kalliassery a model panchayat in the power sector, was aided by the Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT). The delay in starting the power-line mapping under the TESMhas drawn criticism from some of the nearly 300 panchayats that have joined the programme.

These local bodies have already transferred 50 per cent of the estimated outlay for the survey in each panchayat to ANERT. The TESM is yet to finalise a schedule for starting the power-line mapping, much to the disappointment of the panchayats. Many of them point out that there is no justification for the delay as the basic methodology for the initiative has already been derived from the Kalliassery experiment.

“There is nothing new about the power-line mapping as it has been successfully conducted in Kalliassery,” says former Kerala State Planning Board member T. Gangadharan who was actively involved in the Kalliassery Development Programme. When contacted by The Hindu, he has said that the mapping in the panchayat helped volunteers identify which of the three electrical phases had more load than the others. A major outcome of the survey was that the Kerala State Electricity Board could introduce load-balancing in the panchayat as part of the KTEP, he adds.

The KSEB authorities also admit that the power-line mapping was essential for power management. “Laying power-lines in the State has always been need-based and not scientific,” says B. Pradeep, general secretary of the KSEB Officers’ Association.

At present, no village-level data regarding the pattern of usage of power is available with the KSEB, he adds.

The power-line mapping envisaged under the TESM includes details about the posts, transformers and electrical lines marked on those village/ward level maps containing survey numbers and sub-divisions. “A major factor that has caused the delay in starting the power-line mapping is the difficulty in getting panchayat-level base maps,” says R. Harikumar, Project Director, ANERT. As many as 245 of the grama panchayats that joined the TESM programme have already submitted the base maps, he says. He has also disclosed that a schedule of activities for the power-line mapping will be finalised on July 26.

The TESM programme in the panchayats includes a sample survey covering 10 per cent of a panchayat’s population to know power usage patterns, the mandatory survey of every households and institutions and the power-line survey. According to officials, it will take nearly two hours for volunteers to get answers to the 250 page questionnaire from a household to be covered under the sample survey, while the questionnaire for the mandatory survey will take 20-25 minutes.