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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 09 May 2023

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 09 May 2023


  1. Smart electricity for India
  2. Floods triggered by atmospheric rivers

Smart Electricity for India


  • The power sector in India is undergoing a significant shift towards smart metering interventions.
  • By 2025–2026, the nation hopes to have installed more than 5.5 million prepaid smart metres in place of 250 million conventional electric metres.
  • The Ministry of Power is spearheading a national campaign to inform consumers about the advantages of smart metres, and discoms are required to co-own and assume control of the initiative.
  • To assist power distribution companies (discoms) become financially stable and effective so they can provide better services to consumers, India is supporting this initiative through a results-linked grant-cum-financing.


GS Paper-2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

Mains Question

Describe the advantages and difficulties of India’s smart metering initiative. What actions can the government, power distribution companies, and technology providers take to address these issues and make the initiative successful?

Benefits of technology:

  • According to a recent study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), most users of smart metres have already started to take advantage of some technology advantages.
  • About 2,700 urban households in six States using prepaid or post-paid smart metres were included in the study.
  • Two-thirds of users said paying bills had gotten easier, and half of users said billing regularity had improved.
  • About 40% of users mentioned a variety of side benefits, including better local power supplies, a feeling of control over their electricity costs, and a decline in electricity theft.
  • In fact, 70% of people who use prepaid smart metres said they would advise others to use the technology.
  • These results provide assurance that India’s transition to smart metres is going in the right direction.

Implementation difficulties:

• Despite the advantages, there are still some hiccups. Due to the fact that many users were unable to access detailed electricity bills and that 50% of users were not using the smart metre mobile app, they had doubts about how their bills were calculated and what deductions had been made. To bring about a smart metre revolution in India, these problems must be resolved.

Solutions for a Future of Smart Electricity:

  • India must adopt a user-centric design and deployment strategy as it works to realise its vision of a financially stable and digitalized power sector through smart metering interventions.
  • Here are four ideas for diverse actors who want to step up.
  • Lead National Education Campaigns: The Ministry of Power should spearhead a national campaign to inform consumers about the advantages of smart metres and boost the adoption of smart metre apps.
    • The apps should be usable by users from various socioeconomic backgrounds and offer information and advice that can be put into practise.
    • This is significant because user satisfaction with smart metres is related to users’ perceptions of the benefits of technology and their ability to access and understand online bills.
    • High user satisfaction in Assam and high mobile app adoption in Bihar point to opportunities for learning how to scale the use of smart metres for discoms in other States.
  • Co-Own the Programme: Discoms must share ownership of the programme and assume control.
    • The Advanced Metering Infrastructure Service Providers (AMISPs), who are in charge of setting up and running the AMI system for the duration of the project (10 years), are deploying the majority of smart metres in India.
    • In order to use smart metre data for revenue protection and consumer engagement, Discoms must closely collaborate with AMISPs to guarantee a seamless installation and recharge experience for users.
    • To achieve this, discoms must strengthen their internal capability through appropriate staffing and training measures.
  • Work Together to Develop Creative and Scalable Data Solutions: Discoms, System Integrators, and Technology Providers should all work together to develop creative and scalable data solutions.
    • Making the most of smart metre data is essential to revealing their true value.
  • This would necessitate the creation of an ecosystem that encourages innovation in analytics, data hosting, and sharing platforms and allows for the cooperative testing and scaling of novel solutions by key actors.
  • Strengthen Regulations: To give consumers the power to open up new retail markets, policymakers and regulators must strengthen regulations.
    • At the moment, crucial clauses relating to the gradual phase-out of paper bills, arrear adjustment, frequency of recharge alerts, buffer time, rebates, and data privacy are dispersed throughout various regulatory orders or are simply absent.
    • Their integration into already-existing State frameworks will be essential for ensuring that end users have a positive technological experience.
  • The retail market must be made open to new business models and prosumers (producers, consumers, and storage users). Regulators must also permit innovation and simplification in tariff design.
    • The Ministry of Power took a progressive step last month when it proposed changes to the Electricity Rules that would allow time-variable tariffs for all users of smart metres.


Smart metres are an essential component of the transition toolbox because they promote responsible consumption, effective energy management, and the cost-effective integration of distributed energy resources. The success of India’s smart metering initiative will depend on its adoption of a user-centric design and deployment philosophy.

Floods Triggered By Atmospheric Rivers


  • An analysis that was recently published in the most recent issue of Communications Earth and Environment journal found that from 1985 to 2020, atmospheric rivers (ARs) were directly responsible for about 70% of India’s major flood events that occurred during the summer monsoon season.
    • Researchers from the University of Washington, the National Institute of Technology, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar collaborated to conduct the study.


GS Paper-3: Climate Change, Global Warming, Atmospheric river and its effects; Disaster Management; Floods

Mains Question

The Atmospheric River AR is what? Discuss the effects of the atmospheric river on the climate globally as well. (150 Words)

Important Findings:

  • The research team used the high-resolution atmospheric fields from the European Reanalysis Version, observed precipitation from the India Meteorological Department, and a historical flood database from the Dartmouth Flood Observatory of the University of Colorado (USA) to study the effects of ARs formed during the summer monsoon season on flooding in India.
  • More than 3% of India’s total geographic area has experienced flooding during each year of the past ten years, according to data from the Dartmouth Flood Observatory.According to a report by the Asian Development Bank, floods in India caused more than $50 billion in damage between 1990 and 2020.

Key Findings:

  • Between 1985 and 2020, seven of the ten floods with the highest mortality rate were linked to ARs.
    • Severe ARs were to blame for the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, which claimed 6,000 lives, the 2007 floods in South East Asia, including India, which claimed 2000 lives, the 1988 Punjab floods, the 400-life 2018 Kerala floods, the 2006 floods in Gujarat, the 1993 floods in Assam, and the 2004 floods that significantly damaged Eastern India and Bangladesh.
    • These floods cost several billion dollars in damages and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
  • Because atmospheric rivers can hold more moisture due to the warming climate, there is concern that future floods will be even more destructive.
  • Between 1951 and 2020, 596 significant AR events occurred in India.
  • Out of one-third of the top AR events, 54% occurred in the recent three decades, i.e., between 1991 and 2020, indicating a direct link between severe ARs and rising global temperatures. • The frequency and severity of ARs show an increasing trend in India in recent decades. o More than 95% of these ARs occurred during the summer monsoon season, i.e., between June and September.
    • As the climate continues to warm, daily and subdaily precipitation extremes have risen recently and are likely to continue to rise.
  • The South Asian monsoon system is projected to transport more moisture under a warming climate, which may lead to an increased frequency of ARs making landfall in India. o The report also considered extreme daily precipitation to have occurred when the rainfall for a particular day exceeded 1 mm of rainfall.
  • A rise in Vapour Pressure Deficit (VPD) has caused a significant increase in evaporation from the Indian Ocean in recent decades.
  • As the climate has warmed recently, so have the frequency of ARs and the floods they cause. o VPD is the measurement of pressure needed to turn liquid into vapour.
    • As the Indian Ocean warms more quickly, evaporation may increase significantly, which could cause more severe ARs.
  • In India, the impact of ARs varied greatly.
    • The study discovered that while ARs were more severe in North India in July and August, they were more severe in the lower Indo-Gangetic plains and peninsular India during the summer monsoon.

Atmospheric river

  • An atmospheric river (AR) is a confined passageway or filament of highly concentrated moisture in the atmosphere.
  • Alternatively put, it is a phenomenon in which a stream of water vapour moves through the sky like a river on land.
  • It is also known as a cloud band, moisture plume, water vapour surge, tropical plume, and tropical connection.
    • Since ARs can produce enormous amounts of precipitation in a matter of hours or days, they have an impact on India’s water resources and pose dangerous flood hazards.
  • The precipitation levels of these ARs are more in the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats regions, causing extreme rain events. o The ARs are narrower and carry more moisture.

Way forward:

  • This is the first time that a study has been done to determine how flooding in India is related to ARs.
    • More research is required to determine how global warming affects ARs.
    • As the climate warms, flooding brought on by AR may only get worse.
  • In order to understand the potential for extreme rain events and subsequent flooding during the summer monsoon season in India, comprehensive monitoring of AR would also be necessary for early warning systems. ARs should be a crucial component of the country’s current flood early warning systems, which can aid in adaptation and mitigation.


Understanding the role of ARs in the current and projected future climate is crucial for mitigating the flood risks. Floods have devastating effects on the economy and society.

December 2023