Why in the News?
As per the recent reports, India needs more funding and coordinated action for the safety of tragic electrical accidents.
About India’s Power Sector
- The power Sector relates directly or indirectly to the activities of production, and marketing and/or directly or indirectly to the sale of electricity or heat or related products and services.
- The power sector has three main segments:
- Generation: Producing power using different fuels is carried out in generating plants.
- Transmission utilities carry vast power from the generation plants to the distribution sub-stations through the grid at high voltages.
- Distribution: Distribution utilities supply electricity from the substations to the consumers through interconnected networks.
- Distribution is the selling phase and functions at lower voltages.
Issues Faced by Power Sector:
- Fuel Security Concerns:
- A significant natural gas-based capacity of more than 20,000 MW is idle due to the non-availability of natural gas.
- Coal supply is limited, which led to increased dependence on imported coal with the flow of resulting in high power generation costs.
- Transmission & Distribution Losses:
- India’s average technical and commercial losses constitute about 32% of electricity which is ultimately high as compared to the developed countries (6-11%).
- Ageing Power Plants and Transmission network:
- A major reason for outdated transmission and power plants is due to the immediate instalments after independence.
- Requires up-gradation or power shut.
- Interstate Disputes:
- Interstate river disputes cost effect in the power sector of India.
- For example, Mahanadi river interstate disputes.
- Coordination Issues:
- Multiple ministries and agencies involved in managing the power sector usually lead to adverse effects on Power Sector.
- As per the reports from National Crime Record Bureau, the rate of Electric shock deaths and fires has rapidly increased over years.
- From 2957 deaths and 0.36 deaths per lakh population in 1990 to 15,258 deaths and 1,13 death per lakh population in 2020.
- The number of death due to electrical shocks have been reduced in other countries as compared to India.
- 90% of the electrical shock deaths are of common people rather than workers due to unawareness.
- Most accidents occur in rural areas.
- Poor urban local areas need special attention as they are located mostly on the verge of such power sectors.
- Most fatalities occur at distribution networks and low-tension consumer locations.
- Deaths also occur due to open switchboards or short circuits or electrical faults.
Safety checks and balances
- Certain guidelines have been created to be followed by all electricity utilities.
- No such guidelines to keep a check on electricity utilities if the guidelines have been followed.
- Due to understaffing, the major focus is on industrial interest rather than public welfare.
- Grass-root organisations focus on the exgratia of workers rather than the welfare of the workers.
- Distribution companies are expected to have safety officers and periodic safety conduction.
The solution to overcome ongoing issues
- Fuel Reforms
- Increase participation of Private sectors.
- Easing of the regulatory framework
- Increased financing facility
- Need a robust and sustainable enhanced frame
- Cooperative Federalism
- Resolving issues of inter-state disputes
- Electric safety is a public interest challenge which can be met only through coordinated and mutual action.
- Current tightening of the issues can be done using efficient data collection, introducing safety measures in National programmes and using technological innovations.
- Need for a national programme to reduce electrical accidents in the distribution sector
- A clear scope of work
- Sufficient resource allocation and robust monitoring
- Verification mechanism
- States could distinguish districts with the most fatalities and can conclude a plan of action to tackle such issues.
- Need to chalk out a measure to not only affordable, quality, and universal but also quality safety.