Centre, ADB ink $132.8mn loan pact for power sector

NEW DELHI, Dec 1: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Centre on Tuesday signed a $132.8 million loan agreement to strengthen and modernise the power distribution network in Meghalaya.
The signatories to the Meghalaya Power Distribution Sector Improvement Project were CS Mohapatra, additional secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), department of economic affairs in the Union ministry of finance and Takeo Konishi, country director of ADB’s India Resident Mission.
After signing the loan agreement, Mohapatra stated that the project would support Meghalaya Government’s “24×7 Power for All” initiative and help the state reduce its high technical and commercial losses through network strengthening, metering and billing efficiency improvements.
“Technological improvements to the distribution network adapted to extreme weather, introduction of smart meters and online meter reading, billing and collection systems will help improve operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of the state’s distribution system,” said Konishi.
Though Meghalaya has achieved 100 per cent electrification, remote rural areas in the state still suffer from frequent power interruptions owing to overloaded distribution networks and substations that use outdated technology, resulting in high aggregate technical and commercial losses.
The central and state governments had embarked on a joint “24×7 Power for All Meghalaya” initiative to provide uninterrupted, quality, reliable and affordable power supply to all electricity consumers.
The project will construct 23 substations; renovate and modernise 45 substations, including the provision of control room equipment and protection systems; install and upgrade 2,214 kilometres of distribution lines and associated facilities covering three out of six circles in the state.
Installation of smart meters will benefit about 1.8 lakh households.
The loan is proposed to be supplemented by a $2 million grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction  that will finance renewable energy mini-grids for improving power quality and supporting income generation activities, especially for women and other socially disadvantaged groups in three villages and three schools.
The project will help develop a distribution sector roadmap and a financial roadmap for the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Limited (MePDCL).
These roadmaps will strengthen the capacity of MePDCL to operate and manage the distribution networks.

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