Kohima, February 18 (NEx): The Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio addressing the discussion on matters of urgent public importance pertaining to Power Reforms in Nagaland during the 7th session of the 13th Legislative Assembly today, said the discussion was done to create public awareness. He informed the house that on February 9th, 2021 during a cabinet meeting it was unanimously decided that there is need for reform in power sector, particularly in billing and revenue sector.
While stating that land issue is one of the major problems faced in production and generation of power, Rio said that in revenue sector there is need for privatization and the State needs to start outsourcing in all revenue related departments. He added that the Power Department is taking the first step in outsourcing meter reading, and if required a Consolidated Outsourcing Act should be brought out covering all revenue related department and said that its time the consumers pay for the services provided.
Pointing out that the Nagaland Communitisation of Public Institutions & Services Act 2002 and the Electricity Act 2003 are contradictory, as the Electricity Act 2003 requires all consumers are to be metered mandatorily, Rio said that an Act to reform this contradiction is required in near future.
Advisor, Power, H. Tovihoto Ayemi informed that the Department of Power has proposed an action plan to improve the revenue and the cabinet has approved the outsourcing process to be implemented where outsourcing process will be done through a well registered company with sound financial and management capabilities. The Department of Power will work out detailed procedures and technicalities including vigorous monitoring mechanism, and selection of firm through e-tendering process to be done. The outsourcing is targeted in Dimapur, Kohima, Wokha, Mokokchung initially and communitisation based revenue collection system should not be allowed for electricity. The existing meter reader/ billing assistant will be redeployed for various vigilance and monitoring, he said.
Power Minister, Tongpong Ozukum, participating in the discussion, said that the State is lacking far behind in power sector comparing to other States. The harsh reality of our State is that when other States is focussed on planning more and more power generation and export them to earn resources as their State revenue, our State is still focused on dynamic power trading, buying and selling of power inorder to minimize the losses incurred every year.
He highlighted that the power requirement in our State is 250MW and as of the available statistics our State does not generate even 15% of power requirement in the State. The State need a big push in power sector and come up with comprehensive plan to develop more power plants for higher production and high distribution and more revenue generation. The immediate step for our State is to improve the revenue collection system by adopting certain measures and mechanization, he added.
Further, the minister pointed that, non-payment of bills are the major factors for the unprecedent loss of power revenue in Nagaland. The State is incurring huge loss year after year, and there is a need to ponder upon the loopholes in revenue collection to find out the factors for less revenue generation and review the commission policy. Also, he said that streamlining the system is required by further educating and sensitization of the people to be more sensible and responsible power consumers.
MLA, Y. Vikheho Swu, participating at the discussion said that, the State Government should be given due consideration in the rural areas and need a paradigm shift for structural change. He mentioned that Nagaland has many rivers for which there is a high potential for setting up more Hydro project in the future if timely intervention is taken by the department and the Government. He added that strict and prompt accountability by the department will improve the revenue collection.
Leader of Opposition, T.R. Zeliang, taking part in the discussion called for the use of technology at various levels in the functioning of the Department such as electronic billing system. He also suggested for the promotion of solar energy to tackle the shortage of power in the State. He further suggested the Power Department to come up with a concrete plan so that the House can deliberate on it and give suggestions.
Minister for Planning & Coordination, Land Revenue and Parliamentary Affairs, Neiba Kronu expressed concern over the huge gap in the amount spent and collected in the Power Sector in the State. He also stated that Nagaland has many sites with potential for hydro projects and suggested for setting up of more hydro projects.
(With inputs from DIPR)