Mohamed Nazeer

KANNUR: The power line mapping survey planned to be conducted in grama panchayats under the Total Energy Security Mission (TESM) being implemented through the Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) is yet to take off due to delay in starting training programmes for volunteers.

The TESM is an initiative of the State government launched as a flagship project in the energy sector during the Eleventh Plan to start various power conservation programmes in 14 district panchayats, 300-odd grama panchayats and municipalities and corporations through ANERT.

All these local bodies have already transferred to the ANERT half of the estimated outlay for the initiative, the major component of which is panchayat-level power line mapping.

The survey has been planned for evaluation of availability and consumption of electricity as well as potential for power generation in the district as also creation of awareness on electricity safety. The State has an estimated 26 per cent of households without electricity.

TESM objectives

The objectives of the TESM include 100 per cent electrification, ensuring minimum one unit of electricity to each family; availability of energy equivalent to two kg. of cooking gas per capita per month; supply of energy required for public institutions and mini- and medium-industry enterprises; and emphasis on utilisation of non-conventional energy and conservation of energy. The training programmes for master trainers under the TESM were to have been completed by December last and panchayat-level energy volunteers given training by April last.

As per a government order dated March 10, 2008, works to be carried out under the agreement being executed between each local body and the ANERT for implementing the TESM programme should have started in April.

The local bodies included in the TESM should also allocate funds for the project envisaged in the agreement.

Though there is variation in the allocation depending on the size of the panchayats, each of the 300-odd panchayats included under the power survey initiative has already transferred Rs.3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh to the ANERT.

The power survey has three components: sample survey covering 10 per cent of the panchayat’s population to identify energy conservation patterns; mandatory survey to identify unelectrified households, institutions and public places; and power mapping required for energy conservation planning.

Postponement of the training programmes for volunteers since the power survey project was approved in December last has created a sense of uncertainty among many panchayats included in the TESM and made other panchayats reluctant to join the programme.

Lack of schedule

Panchayat authorities say there is lack of a clear schedule or plan in the survey plan. Many of these panchayats are known to have expressed their reservations about the wisdom of having deposited funds that could have been otherwise utilised for developmental activities.

“The general opinion among grama panchayats on the TESM programme is that it lacks clarity,” Kunnumbram Narayanan, president of Pappinissery panchayat and president of the Kerala Grama Panchayat Association told The Hindu.

Association State secretary S. Nasaruddin, president of Nedumbana panahayat in Kollam, said the association had conveyed its concerns about the programme and urged the authorities to make arrangements for the speedy completion of the training programme by excluding those panchayats that were not interested in the power line mapping survey.

K.V. Sreedharan, president of the Kannapuram panchayat, which has been selected as a model panchayat for implementing the power mapping survey in the district, however, said the TESM programme was hit by initial concerns and uncertainties similar to those the People’s Planning Campaign had faced in its initial phase.

Training programme

According to ANERT officials, the delay in starting the power survey initiative is due to the delay in constituting 10-member energy environment corps (EEC) in each panchayat. Acknowledging that there was delay in starting the survey, ANERT Project Director R. Harikumar said steps were now under way to start the volunteer training programmes in August.

Regional workshops

Three regional workshops for EEC conveners had been held in Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram from July 2 to 9, he said.