The spending would focus on upgrading infrastructure and technology of the ailing utilities to make them more efficient and reduce financial losses, according to the people. Under the plan, the federal government would provide annual grants to states that meet targets set by New Delhi.
Spokesmen at the finance and power ministries were not immediately available for comment.
The plan could include some specific measures such as separating power feeder grids for farmers and residential users, and installation of prepaid smart meters to stop pilferage and encourage timely payment, they said. It also plans to replace overhead cables with special insulated wires to prevent theft.
Electricity retailers are the weakest link in the country’s power supply chain, losing on an average about a fifth of their revenue because of technical and commercial reasons, including loss of power supplies through theft, poor transmission infrastructure and inefficient billing and collection.
The plan will be a modified version of an earlier program unveiled in 2015 to revive power distributors through restructuring of their debtheir debt. That attempt remained unsuccessful in making retailers profitable by March 2019.
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