Distribution Companies should turn the Tide by Going SMART

The argument behind privatisation is that it provides consumers with more choices for reliable and quality power supply, while curbing the financial and operational losses incurred by state-owned DISCOMs. While privatisation is likely to reform the distribution sector, creating accountability at the operational level is fundamental, be it a private or state-owned utility. This can be done only through a performance-monitoring mechanism with well-defined roles and responsibilities, including revenue accountability, for officials at the feeder level.

The lack of accountability in state-owned utilities is due to the absence of well-defined roles and targets for the officials. The present performance monitoring mechanism — involving self-evaluation and a discussion between the employee and the reporting manager — is subjective and not a result-oriented approach.

A reform/economic package alone cannot bring the distribution sector out of financial distress. For a robust and formidable foundation, officials at the operational level need to be made accountable. This alone can pull DISCOMs out of the present mess and put them on a path to recovery.

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