PIB – 22nd Dec 2020

Memorandum of Agreement signed between CGWB and CSIR-NGRI for High-Resolution Aquifer Mapping & Management in Arid Region of North-Western India

  • A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed between Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Ministry of Jal Shakti and CSIR-NGRI, Hyderabad for use of advanced heliborne geophysical survey and other scientific studies in parts of the States of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana under the Aquifer Mapping Programme.
  • The major objectives of the study include High resolution aquifer mapping using heliborne geophysical studies, including identification of Sites for artificial recharge,3D Geophysical model, Geophysical Thematic maps at horizontal and vertical plains, Aquifer Geometry of principal aquifer with demarcation of de-saturated and saturated aquifers,Aquifer system with relatively fresh and saline zones; Spatial and depth wise distribution of paleochannel network if any and its linkage with aquifer system; Selecting suitable sites for groundwater withdrawal and water conservation through artificial or managed aquifer recharge.
  • This is the first time Ministry of Jal Shakti has decided to use state of the art technology for identification of aquifers in such a large arid/semi-arid area of the country. 
  • The study is likely to generate groundwater data in a very short time period and will help CGWB in expeditiously finalizing the groundwater management plan in above mentioned water stressed areas. 
  • The findings of the study would help in formulating site specific plans for improving ground water levels in the water stressed areas and charter the roadmap for sustainable management of groundwater resources.

“JSA II: Catch the Rain” Awareness Generation Campaign launched

  • National Water Mission(NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports launched the “JSA II: Catch the Rain” Awareness Generation Campaign.
  • As a preparatory phase of JSA-II, the Ministry has involved Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangthan (NYKS) for undertaking ‘Catch the Rain’ awareness campaign to cover 623 districts. The awareness generation phase of the campaign will run from mid-December 2020 to March 2021. 
  • NYKS will undertake this awareness building campaign through various IEC activities which will include conducting education & motivational programs, mass awareness campaigns, environment building including wall writing, banners & e-posters, knowledge competitions, demonstration activities like theme-based nukkad natak & skits, branding & popularize the campaign by logos & printed IEC materials etc. 
  • During this period, the NYKS teams will also meet district administration, line departments and water agencies, hold meetings with Pradhans, local influencers and volunteers to further the cause and also prepare plans for the water conservation to be taken up in the next phase of the campaign.
  • NWM has launched a campaign “Catch the rain” with tagline “catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls” in order to nudge all stake-holders to create Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata to store rain water as rains falling in the four/five months of monsoon are the only source of water for most parts of the country.  
  • Drives to make water harvesting pits, rooftop RWHS and check dams; removal of encroachments and de-silting of tanks to increase their storage capacity; removal of obstructions in the channels which bring water to them from the catchment areas; repairs to traditional water harvesting structures like step-wells and using defunct bore-wells and old wells to put the water back to aquifers etc, are some of the activities suggested to be taken up with peoples’ active participation under this campaign. 
  • The collaboration with NYKS is a step to engage people at the grassroots through effective campaigning & IEC activities for implementation of the campaign.

Union Government for the first time lays down Rights to the Electricity Consumers through “Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020”

  • Union Ministry of Power has promulgated rules laying down the rights of power consumers in the country.  Distribution Companies across the country are monopolies – whether government or private – and the consumer has no alternative – therefore it was necessary that the consumers’ rights be laid down in Rules and a system for enforcement of these rights be put in place. 

1.     Following key areas are covered in the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules:

a)     Rights of consumers and Obligations of Distribution licensees

b)     Release of new connection and modification in existing connection

c)     Metering arrangement

d)     Billing and Payment

e)     Disconnection and Reconnection

f)      Reliability of supply

g)     Consumer as Prosumer

h)     Standards of Performance of licensee

i)      Compensation Mechanism

j)      Call Centre for Consumer Services

k)     Grievance redressal mechanism

2.         Rights and Obligations.-

•       It is the duty of every distribution licensee to supply electricity on request made by an owner or occupier of any premises in line with the provisions of Act.

•       It is the right of consumer to have minimum standards of service for supply of electricity from the distribution licensee.

3.     Release of new connection and modification in existing connection.-

•       Transparent, simple and time bound processes,

•       Applicant has option for online application,  

•       Maximum time period of 7 days in metro cities and 15 days in other municipal areas and 30 days in rural areas identified to provide new connection and modify an existing connection:

4.     Metering –

       No connection shall be given without a meter

•       Meter shall be the smart pre-payment meter or pre-payment meter.

•       Provision of Testing of meters

•       Provisions for replacement of defective or burnt or stolen meters specified

5.     Billing and payment –

•       Transparency in applicable consumer tariff and bills

•       Consumers shall have the option to pay bills online or offline.

•       Provision for advance payment of bills

6.     Disconnection and reconnection provisions

7.     Reliability of supply

•       The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture. 

•       The distribution licensee shall put in place a mechanism, preferably with automated tools to the extent possible, for monitoring and restoring outages.

8.     Consumer as prosumer

•       While the prosumers will maintain consumer status and have the same rights as the general consumer, they will also have right to set up Renewable Energy (RE) generation unit including roof top solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – either by himself or through a service provider.

9.     Standards of performance.

•       The Commission shall notify the standards of performance for the distribution licensees.

•       Compensation amount to be paid to the consumers by the distribution licensees for violation of standards of performance

10.   Compensation mechanism

•       Automatic compensation shall be paid to consumers for which parameters on standards of performance can be monitored remotely.

•       The standards of performance for which the compensation is required to be paid by the distribution licensee include, but are not limited to, the following, namely:-

i.      No supply to a consumer beyond a particular duration, to be specified by the Commission;

ii.      Number of interruptions in supply beyond the limits as specified by the Commission;

iii.     Time taken for connection, disconnection, reconnection, shifting;

iv.    Time taken for change in consumer category, load;

v.     Time taken for change in consumer details;

vi.    Time taken for replacement of defective meters;

vii.    Time period within which bills are to be served;

viii.   Time period of resolving voltage related complaints; and

ix.    Bill related complaints.

11.   Call Centre for Consumer Services

•       Distribution licensee shall establish a centralised 24×7 toll-free call centre

•       Licensees shall endeavour to provide all services through a common Customer Relation Manager (CRM) System to get a unified view

12.   Grievance redressal mechanism .-

•       Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) to include consumer and prosumer representatives.

•       The consumer grievance redressal has been made easy by making it multi-layered and the number of consumer’s representatives have been increased from one to four.

•       The licensee shall specify the time within which various types of grievances by the different levels of the forums are to be resolved. Maximum timeline of 45 days specified for grievance redressal.

13.   General Provisions.-

•       Use of online access to various services such as application submission, monitoring status of application, payment of bills, status of complaints raised ,etc., to consumers through its website, web portal, mobile app and its various designated offices area-wise.

•       The distribution licensee shall provide all services such as application submission, payment of bills, etc., to senior citizens at their door-steps.

•       The details of scheduled power outages shall be informed to the consumers. In case of unplanned outage or fault, immediate intimation shall be given to the consumers through SMS or by any other electronic mode along with estimated time for restoration.

Skill India undertakes Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for workers under Department of Panchayati Raj in Chandauli and Varanasi

  • In line with its vision to promote decentralization and local governance for better planning and implementation of skill development programmes, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is conducting a Special Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) program for workers, with Department of Panchayati Raj (DoPR) in Chandauli and Varanasi. 
  • The programme, implemented under SANKALP Programme of MSDE, has been rolled out in Sevapuri and Baragaon blocks in Varanasi that include 167 Gram panchayats and in Niyamatabad and Sahabganjblocks in Chandauli that include 160 gram panchayats.
  • The implementing agency for the programme is National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). After initial preparations such as getting trainers onboard, setting up of RPL camps at appropriate locations and mobilization of candidates with the support of DoPR, Uttar Pradesh training started in the first week of Oct-2020.
  • Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, through its World Bank supported program of Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP),has been working with state and district-level skill development machineries to encourage innovative best practices at the local level that result in enhanced access, quality and capacity in the skilling ecosystem. 
  • The initiative will contribute to the development of rational and realistic state skill development plans, finally leading to a well-grounded national plan for skill development. 
  • Down-streaming the skill development planning to the gram panchayat (GP) level would contribute to decentralization in the true sense. Thus, creating sustainable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for workers and driving socio-economic development of the local economies. 
  • This will further enhance the scope of replicability and scalability of the RPL programme to other GPs across the country.