Kerala

Power sector puts COVID measures in place

With Kerala grappling with the second wave of COVID-19, the State’s power sector has introduced a slew of measures for guaranteeing 24x7 power supply without putting the lives of the employees at risk.

The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which employs 33,000 people, has directed the staff to keep physical contact with the public to a minimum and strictly adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. Field offices have been advised to accept applications for general services such as new electricity connections via the online mode. They have also been told to regulate consumer footfall and encourage electricity consumers to pay their bills online.

The KSEB, which has 1.3 crore consumers, is attempting to put up a robust defence against the virus as the bulk of its 33,000 staff—sub engineers, cashiers, overseers, linemen, meter readers and electricity workers—are people who come into contact with the public on a daily basis.

As part of the precautionary measures, the State-run power utility has revived the electrical section ‘out-centres’/extended offices to cut down staff presence in the field offices and ensure prompt response to power outages. Under this decentralised system, a small group of KSEB staff, notably those tasked with repairs, will be stationed in temporary offices opened in schools, anganwadis or buildings owned by residents’ associations.

They need not report for duty at the main office every day. This will help to keep contact among the KSEB staff to a minimum, KSEB chairman and managing director N. S. Pillai says. “We had successfully experimented with the system during the initial outbreak last year. We have revived it given the surge in COVID-19 cases,” he says.

If billing activities in the containment/micro containment zones are hit, the consumers can snap a photo of the reading in the meter and submit it. Bills will be prepared on the basis of this information, an April 22 notification issued by the KSEB says. In section offices with two cashiers, one cash counter will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The second cashier will contact consumers over phone and help them with instructions for paying their bills online.

The KSEB offices have also been directed to appoint a COVID Protocol Officer who will be responsible for ensuring an adequate supply of sanitiser, soap, masks, and face shields for the staff and consumers visiting the offices.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 10:38:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/power-sector-puts-covid-measures-in-place/article34394980.ece

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