The moment is opportune for distribution companies to adopt advanced digital solutions to become efficient and customer-centric, believes Palka Sahni, executive director, Power Finance Corporation (PFC).
A 2004 batch IAS officer of the Bihar cadre, Sahni took charge of her current role in October 2018. She is spearheading the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and the erstwhile Restructured Accelerated Power Distribution and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP), which is being implemented by PFC as the nodal agency. The IPDS is the Government of India’s flagship programme aimed at the strengthening and modernisation of the power distribution system in urban areas.
“The IT-enablement of discoms achieved under the IPDS has improved business process flows and led to the automation of several key operational areas of discoms,” says Sahni. “We have been able to reach out to over 30 million urban consumers in 2,000-odd towns where IPDS-related work has been completed. This has led to an improvement in the quality and reliability of power supply and eased the life of the common man,” she adds. Going ahead, the priorities are to complete the upgradation work of distribution infrastructure on time across the country, including difficult-to-reach towns of Jammu & Kashmir and the north-eastern states, and ensure that the states leverage technology to empower themselves and their consumers.
Prior to joining PFC, Sahni worked as director in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, where she handled several flagship programmes of the Government of India, including the “Make in India” and “Ease of Doing Business” initiatives. She was also a part of the team that saw India break into the Top 100 in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” rankings.
In addition, Sahni has served as managing director of the Bihar State Power Transmission Company and the South Bihar Power Distribution Company, where she provided leadership to the 7,000-odd workforce and gained in-depth experience of the power sector. Prior to that, she headed Bihar State Electronics Development Corporation Limited.
Aside from interests in energy and development economics, Sahni is a quiz and travel enthusiast. She is a gold medalist in physics from Panjab University, Chandigarh. She is a mother of two children and her husband too is an IAS officer.