The United States Agency for International Development has chosen the Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Centre to work on its slum electrification project.
The project will be mainly funded by USAID. The agency has earlier funded three CERC projects.
USAID has chosen CERC to help in implementing, co-ordinating and executing the project. USAID has selected Ahmedabad in India, Manila in the Philippines, Cape Town in South Africa, and Salvador in Brazil for the project.
The Ahmedabad Electricity Company and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation are already working on a similar project in Ahmedabad since last year. "USAID chose Ahmedabad from all the cities in India," said K K Bajaj, director, CERC.
On behalf of CERC, Bajaj is the senior energy consultant for the project. He will head the project in Ahmedabad.
A four-member team of USAID, headed by Conning Symher, had visited Ahmedabad on November 17.
They visited seven slums in Ahmedabad and Juhapura to see how illegal connections are allotted by the local mafia. CERC has negotiated with AEC to reduce the installation charges from Rs 5,700 to Rs 3,700. AEC has also committed that it won't charge any installation fee.
USAID, under the project, will provide approximately Rs 2,000 per connection. The remaining amount will be paid by the slum dweller or by a non-government organisation.
CERC has joined hands with local NGOs such as Sewa, Saath, World Vision, which will pay the remaining Rs 1,700 in case the slum dweller is unable to pay the amount.
According to Bajaj, CERC, as a consumer education and research centre, will also undertake several programmes so that slum dwellers do not have to pay heavy electricity bills.
CERC, with the help of other NGOs and educated people, will form a community-based organisation. This body will educate people to read the meter, conserve energy by using compact fluorescent lamps, and will also inform people about schemes, which consume less electricity.
The normal consumption of a slum dweller should be not more than 1.2-1.5 units per day, which results in a bill of Rs 150 per month. CERC will also create awareness among slum dwellers on reducing power bills.
The government of Gujarat was providing a 25 per cent subsidy to consumers having monthly consumption less than 100 units till April 2003.
CERC has suggested the government to reintroduce this subsidy as it will benefit slum dwellers.
The commission has also suggested AEC to arrange mobile vans to collect payments from slums on a particular date as slum dwellers do not have a AEC collection centre near to their residence.This project will be completed in the next five years.