Bihar panchayats to act as power supply franchisees

February 14th, 2012 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Patna, Feb 14 (IANS) Gram panchayats (village councils) in power-starved Bihar will be appointed franchisees for distribution of power in villages, an official here said Tuesday.

Bihar State Electricity Board chairman P.K. Rai told IANS that the board’s decision to appoint ‘gram-panchayats’ as its franchisees for distribution of power in the village was taken in view of the success of its pilot project at Sitabdiara, the birthplace of legendry socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan.

“After having tasted success of supplying power through the franchisee system in Sitabdiara, the board is upbeat about using the same model in other gram-panchayats soon,” Rai said.

The board had appointed the Sitabdiara gram panchayat as its franchisee for distribution of power in the village last October. An agreement was signed between panchayat representatives and the board’s officials.

Thanks to the board’s franchisee model, electricity finally reached JP’s village, almost 64 years after independence.

The board was forced to apply the franchisee system in Sitabdiara after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani chose the village in Saran district to launch his anti-corruption yatra.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar then inaugurated the power project, barely two hours before he was scheduled to flag off Advani’s yatra.

Rai said a private company had collected 90 percent of electricity bills in Sitabdiara. The local residents of the panchayat have come forward to check theft of electricity. “The board has installed transformers as per the requirement of the consumers in the village. It has solved the problem of power cuts,” Rai said.

According to Rai, it will be the responsibility of the gram panchayat as a franchisee to distribute bills, read meters, collect revenue, maintain low-tension lines and attend to fuse-off calls in the rural areas. The franchisee would further ensure that all the connections were billed and the revenue collected deposited timely at the board’s office or its account or at a designated bank for the purpose within a specified time frame on a regular basis.

After the board decided to appoint the gram panchayat as its franchisee, officials of the board began holding meetings with panchayat representatives on the issue in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, West Champaran, East Champaran, Sitamarhi and Sheohar districts.

The board would make arrangements for their proper training at the district-level before signing a memorandum of understanding between the board and village representatives for ensuring power supply in their respective villages.

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