New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: In a relief for the electricity consumers, Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced that the government will soon provide a framework to allow the consumers to choose between different service providers and discoms. At present, a large number of power distribution utilities (discoms) across the country are state-owned.

"Discoms are monopolies. There is a need to provide a choice to customers to choose a service provider (distribution company). A framework will be put in place to provide an alternative," Nirmala Sitharaman said during her Budget speech.

Sitharaman also highlighted the financial stress in the discoms and said that they are unable to ensure 24-hour 'power for all' as envisaged by the central government because they are cash strapped. She also noted that 1.41 lakh circuit kilometres of power transmission lines were added in the last six years.

Total outstanding dues of the discoms toward power generating firms stood at over Rs 1.35 lakh crore as of December 2020. She also said that during the last six years, 139 GW of power generation capacity has been added and 2.8 crore households were provided electricity connection.

She further said that the viability of distribution companies "serious a concern" and announced a Rs 3,05,984 crore electricity distribution reform scheme over 5 years in order to empower electricity distribution companies (discoms). The major features of the scheme include prepaid smart metering, feeder separation and up-gradation system.

Sitharaman said an additional 100 districts will be added for city gas distribution in the next 3 years. An independent gas transport system operator will be established in this regard. Further Ujjwala Scheme will be extended to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries. Finance Minister also announced the Hydrogen Energy Mission 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green sources.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan