Varied interests in the energy and power sector viz., CDM, carbon rating, Monitoring & Evaluation, Energy Management, Rural Development; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related matters; Demand Side Management (DSM), Energy Audits, Distributed Power Generation (Biomass, Wind,Solar and Small Hydro), Participatory Management.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

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PRESK pilot project in Karnataka

The Government of Karnataka, with support from USAID, piloted a project titled ‘Participatory Rural Energy Services of Karnataka’ during 2003-04. The final objective of the project was to empower the gram panchayats (GPs) to take over rural electricity distribution. The project was initiated in 4 taluks covering 112 GPs and 1143 villages with a population of 7.28 lakhs. Initial surveys indicated that the farmers were facing much more severe problems like water shortages due to drought, mounting debt burden and poor agriculture markets. The GPs were reluctant to take up additional responsibility of electricity distribution under these circumstances. Therefore, it was thought fit to take a participatory approach among the GP members and the farmers. The local farmers were used for data collection on farmer profiles and agriculture practices in field surveys. Workshop meetings were held in the four taluks and officials from Rural Electrification Board (REB) of Bangladesh were brought in to share their experiences in establishing their Palli Bidyut Samithis (PBSs). A resource center was set up in one of the taluks where a farmer could access internet and obtain information on global agri-markets, water conservation, farming practices, renewable energy sources, electricity distribution issues, etc. A motivational film was made and screened to change the mindset of the farmer audience. A massive capacity building program for the GP members on the subject ‘Benefits of taking over Metering, Billing and Collection (MBC) activities of ESCOMs by the GPs’ was designed and implemented in which 276 members participated. This constituted 26% women members. This 18-month effort finally paid off with 30 of the 112 GPs showing willingness to sign agreements with their respective ESCOMs. Six GPs convened special meetings and signed resolutions to this effect. During the same period, KPTCL had also experimented employing gram vidyut pratinidhis (GVPs) for the same MBC activities. KPTCL are now taking further steps to establish a sustainable mechanism to sign MOUs with GPs and utilize the services of GVPs under the scheme.

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