Digital Media helps in delivering targeted outcomes

P K Mukhopadhyay

Digital media offers a powerful and dynamic platform to engage with the target audience in a quickest and responsive manner. Using the digital platform, it is possible to reach out directly to the general public and to deliver targeted outcomes says P K Mukhopadhyay, GM-IT & Chief Technology Officer, REC Limited, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).

P K Mukhopadhyay

How technology plays a vital role in your organisation, especially when you are dealing with rural India?

REC Ltd (formerly Rural Electrification Corporation Limited), a premier financial institution in the power sector under the aegis of Ministry of Power, the nodal agency for implementation of various flagship programs of the Government of India, i.e, Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), Power For All (PFA), National Electricity Fund (NEF), among others.

All these schemes act as a catalyst in uplifting the quality of rural life by providing them access to electricity. To accomplish the Grameen Vidyutikaran mission of electrifying 18,452 un-electrified villages before the timeline along with transparency and accountability, a monitoring mechanism –Grameen Vidyutikaran (GARV)– has been set-up.

The mission has brought transparency in the implementation of a government program and has empowered the agencies involved in disseminating real-time information to the general public through the GARV mobile app.

Similarly, to achieve the target of electrifying 2.63 crore households in a transparent manner, the Saubhagya web-portal/app was developed. For maintaining the sanctity of data, billing data of Distribution Company (DISCOMS) was integrated with Saubhagya portal/app so that the consumer progress gets updated automatically when the new consumer was created in the Discoms/state billing data. Subsequently, an important functionality– ‘New Consumer Application’– was also developed wherein all the detail of a consumer such as a photo of the beneficiary, photocopies of identity proof, address proof, etc., were captured to provide on the spot electricity connection under Saubhagya scheme.

How social media and other digital platform help in promoting rural electrification projects across India?

Digital media offers a powerful and dynamic platform to engage with the target audience in quickest and responsive manner. Using a digital platform, it is possible to reach out directly to the general public and to deliver targeted outcomes. A similar model is being followed by REC in its ‘Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya)’. With social media as an active component of the overall strategy: every effort, every challenge, and every progress are being reported with utmost accuracy. Using Twitter and Facebook, the mission was able to get to ground zero and fetch reports from the grassroots level in the form of people tweeting and posting their issues on-line. It is a platform for the public to participate in the development of those parts of country which have been left far behind by tracking the status of works and to expedite the process through micro-management at various levels.

The social media interaction comprising of feedbacks, queries and grievances have been addressed and best possible solutions have been provided.

Give us an overview of the new products and services you are working on currently?

A number of initiatives have been taken by the Government of India to improve the power-related services in India, right from off-grid Decentralised Distributed Generation (DDG) system, establishing green energy, reducing fossil fuel-based generation, etc. India has been a pioneering and founding member of International Solar Energy Alliance (ISA) and has been playing an active role in promoting renewable non- conventional energy production.

How challenging is it to deliver digital services in rural India?

The objective of the ‘Saubhagya’ is to provide electricity to all remaining un-electrified households in rural as well as urban areas. Saubhagya reaches to approximately 2.63 crore households (approx. 13.15 crore people) across the country. It means covering population of the size of Philippines or Egypt. The major challenge was integration of Saubhagya portal with states billing software.

 After the integration, Saubhagya app maintains the records of approx. 2.63 crore recently electrified consumer detail such as consumer Number and name, village, census code, meter number, date of connection, above poverty line (APL)/ below poverty line (BPL), Rural/Urban and Mobile number etc. It has reduced the administrative delays and enhanced the transparency in the electrification process.

What are the innovations concerned with technology, you are planning to deploy by 2020?

Few of the areas which are being pushed as major technical reform are reduction of Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT & C) losses, introduction of smart metering, modernization of transformer, feeder segregation to provide required quality of services to various segments of power consumption, Computerized Automated Billing Systems etc.

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