New Delhi, Dec 7 (PTI) Power Minister R K Singh today said most of the states have agreed on 24X7 power for all, 90 per cent pre-paid meters and direct benefit transfer (DBT) of subsidies for electricity consumers across the country.

“Our vision is that we want 24X7 power for all by March 2019. Now it will be a legal obligation. After March 2019, if there is any load shedding without any reason, there will be penalties except in case of technical issues or act of God,” Singh said.

He was addressing reporters at a conference of ‘Ministers for Power and New & Renewable Energy of States & Union Territories’ here.

The minster said all the participant states have agreed to provide 24X7 power to all.

He further said there would be 100 per cent metering (of electricity supply) and 90 per cent of this would be pre- paid meters.

“We are doing away with the human interface totally in metering, billing and collection. The payment for electricity consumption will be through mobile phone. All states have agreed on this,” he said.

Asked about the deadline for achieving the goal of 90 per cent pre-paid meters in the country, the minister said there is no deadline.

“But we have to reduce losses by January 2019 to ensure 24X7 power for all by March 2019. It is agreed that the (distribution) losses would be reduced to below 15 per cent by January 2019,” he said.

Singh said the other issue that was discussed was cross subsidisation, as some states have 19 slabs of tariff. The power tariff will be remodelled according to the report presented by an expert committee today.

He explained that the cross subsidy would not be more than 20 per cent (the difference between highest and lowest tariff).

Tariff policy provides that cross subsidy would be brought down to 20 per cent in the first phase. It will help in reduction of tariff for a section of consumers.

About the direct benefit transfer for consumers he said: “Any subsidy you want to give to any category of consumers, it has to go through DBT. That would be the law. All states agree on that.”

The minister also made it clear to states that any tariff decided after the bid has to be adopted and power purchase agreements have to obeyed because that is the law.

About Saubhagya scheme, he said: “We would provide electricity connection to 4 crore families by December 2018.

We are running a public awareness campaign to tell people that they are not required to go anywhere and pay a single rupee for getting electricity connection. We would organise camps to do that.”

He also said after March 2019, the loss will be capped at 15 per cent for fixation of tariff.

“If there are losses of more than 15 per cent, you cannot set that (additional amount over the cap) off by (higher) tariff. The consumers should not be asked to pay for theft committed by others,” he added.

On availability of power in Gujarat for farmers, he said power is very much available for farmers in the state.

“We have agreed that states will set up their own roadmap for separation of carriage and content in power sector,” he said.

This move will help consumers choose their service providers in power sector on the lines of telecom services.

About village electrification he said: “As many as 2,100 villages are still to be electrified including 1,100 in Arunachal Pradesh. Some of these are affected due to rain and snow. Thus, the electrification of these villages would be completed by February or March.”

A total of 17 states including Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, among others and 1 UT attended the conference and deliberated on a host of issues including 24×7 power to all.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.