Even after so many years of Independence, there are over 18000 villages where forget about electricity but even electric polls are not reached. But this scenario is changing fast after the NDA government came to power. The Energy Ministry is busy transforming Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay's dream of 'Gramoday to Bharat Uday'. Panchjanya Associate Editor Alok Goswami and Correspondent Ashwani Mishra talked to Union Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on various issues. Excerpts;
The NDA govt has completed two years. What have been the achievements of your ministry in this period?
The first and foremost difference is there a remarkable change in thinking of the people after the NDA govt came to power. They believe that this govt could set the crippled system. Earlier, one company used to sell 6 lakh LED bulbs in one year, now the same company sells the same number of LED bulbs in just few days! We provided electricity to 7108 villages in 2015-16 that had no electricity at all registering an increase of 37 percent over the past three years. There has been increase in traditional energy capacity (46,543 Mw). Besides, the power deficit rate came down from 11.1 percent to 2.1 percent in 2015-16. The main reason behind this is transparent governance. There was corruption in distribution of coal mines during the previous government and the country suffered a great loss. But this time we maintained transparency in distribution of 74 coal mines and the states benefitted by Rs 3.44 lakh crore which itself is a great achievement. In addition there has been an increase of 7.4 crore tonnes in the coal production in 2014-16 which is all time high. We have made great progress in solar energy sector. There has been an increase of 4132 mw in solar energy production since 2014 which is 157 percent. In Wind energy sector also we have registered an increase of 3423 mw in 2015-16.
Even after 70 years of Independence, there are a number of villages that are miles away from electricity. What is the ministry doing in this direction?
We have started working on these villages on the priority basis because the Prime Minister had made an appeal on Aug 15, 2015, from the Red Fort that in next 1000 days provide electric polls and lines in 18500 villages. We are proud to say that we have crossed the initial target of 2800 villages and provided electricity in 7108 villages in 2015-16, that is 40 per cent villages. But still, there are many villages that are living in the darkness. We have identified 8452 such villages where there is no power, as per the details provided by the states. Besides that we are ensuring strict vigilance at the ground level through giving adequate financial assistance and supervise the schemes. This aspect was the most neglected during the last regime. We have prepared a mobile app called 'Garv' (www.garv.gov.in ) that gives you all the information on this anytime anywhere, which states have to comply with. You will get the complete information of states about how many villages were electrified and how many are still to be electrified. This has to be supported by images and videos, this cannot be fudged. Besides bringing complete transparency, this will show us our mistakes and give a chance to the people to correct the states, in case of any loopholes.
What is the status in case of utilising wind energy?
We are using the wind energy and identifying the new areas also. Though we are ranked fifth in the world, there is a problem in wind energy generation. The required wind speed is not available everywhere as compared to the sunlight. We have come out with a 'wind policy'. We have also set up air plants in seas in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. The work on Gujarat plant will be completed soon. Unlike solar energy, we cannot have definite information about the wind power. Still we have prepared a technique for this. As we have brought NTPC for generation, we have decided that there will be an agency that will purchase air and make power from it and then sell that to states. This is under consideration.
Besides Solar, Wind and Coal, many new renewable sources are worked world over. Are those options also explored?
There are options like Biogas or Gobar gas. Gobar gas is banned in cities as it pollutes the environment with foul smell. We have asked to set up the plant near village so that the village people can supply Gobar to the plant and get the power in lieu of that. Prime Minister Modi too has suggested in making ideal villages on these lines.
Have we made some advances in the field of waste to energy plants?
Initially, the solar energy would cost more, now its cost has come down. Same is the case with power from waste material. This will be costly in the initial stage and companies entering in this field will not get sufficient returns. As waste will be generated in cities and power is also required by the cities, we have decided that power companies in cities should sell the power so generated on a fixed rate. This will ensure purchase of power from those who are using waste material to generate power. We have also suggested to using sewage water for this plant as it requires lot of water. It will help the cities to make sewage water clean and stop the use of potable water.
Various apps of power ministry are also in discussion.
I would like to tell you that the real intention of launching these apps was to ensure accountability and transparency. As I told you, the 'Garv' app tracks the rural electrification. The Power Supply (www.vidyutpravah.in) app keeps vigil on cost of power and availability in actual time. For LED distribution we have made Ujala App (www.ujala.gov.in) . We are getting good positive results of these apps. I call upon your readers to download these apps by giving a missed call to 09220036666. Regarding taking power to villages, we have decided the target of taking the electricity lines to all the villages in 1000 days. With the speed we are working with, this will be completed by May 2017. There may be some houses where there is no electricity; our endeavour is to take the electricity to each and every household in rural and urban areas. We had held a meeting of all the energy minsters of the states and decided to achieve this target by 2018. We are hopeful that the states will come forward and help us in achieving our target.
The Centre claims for 24×7 power supply but certain states like UP face the regular power cuts. In such a situation what is the meaning of this assurance by the Centre?
Earlier, the state and the centre used to blame each other for not working. But we have made it very clear about their work allotment. If there is a drop in coal production, it is our fault. But if the state has power shortage and power is available at cheaper rate in the market still the state is not purchasing it, then it is the mistake of the state. Our Power supply app shows exactly how much power the state has; and at what cost. Distribution of power is a state subject. Media should educate people about this.
What are future plans and schemes?
To implement 'UDAY”. Secondly to develop wind energy sector, third, to work in the field of hydro-power. Not much work is done in this sector. There are fields like biogas, biomass where we are working. n