Piyush Goyal’s bright legacy

About 60,000 MW of ca­pac­ity has been added in con­ven­tional en­ergy alone.

The Sunday Guardian - - World -

Days be­fore the Cab­i­net reshuf­fle, com­ment at ors a nd jour­nal­ists were bet­ting on Piyush Goyal’s el­e­va­tion. In con­so­nance with the buzz, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi pro­moted Goyal to Cab­i­net rank and also gave him the pres­ti­gious and po­lit­i­cally im­por­tant Min­istry of Rail­ways.

In­ter­est­ingly, Piyush Goyal’s claims of solid work at the Min­istry of Power were bol­stered by none other than sci­en­tists at the United States’ space agency, Na­tional Aero­nau­tics and Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NASA). Im­ages clicked by NASA’s Suomi-NPP satel­lite, re­leased in April 2017, showed that night time lights in In­dia had in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly be­tween 2012 and 2016. In­creased night light at coun­tries in the planet was de­picted in blue and dimmed areas in pink. With a splash of blue spread through­out, In­dia looked much brighter in 2016 as com­pared to 2012. Later, bas­ing her source on these NASA night time maps, Betsy Mason blogged on the Na­tional Ge­o­graphic dated 29 April 2017, “That In­dia has bright­ened dra­mat­i­cally, is not a sur­prise.”

Has In­dia’s “power” story picked up dra­mat­i­cally over the last three years or so? About 60,000 MW of ca­pac­ity has been added in con­ven­tional en­ergy alone; the high­est ever for a pe­riod of three years and rep­re­sent­ing an in­crease of over one-fourth from ca­pac­ity in­stalled till March 2014. And has this in­creased ca­pac­ity led to greater con­ven­tional en­ergy gen­er­a­tion? As per Cen­tral Elec­tric­ity Au­thor­ity (CEA) data, en­ergy gen­er­a­tion from con­ven­tional sources has in­creased at a fairly de­cent rate over the last three years, that is, 8.43% in 2014-15, 5.64% in 2015-16 and 4.72% in 201617.

And it is on the back of this ris­ing power gen­er­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity that the Union Govern­ment steadily con­structed cross-bor­der elec­tri­cal lines, en­abling In­dia to be­come for the first time a net ex­porter of elec­tric­ity. As per CEA data, dur­ing the first 11 months of FY 2016-17, In­dia ex­ported around 5,798 mil­lion units of elec­tric­ity to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myan­mar, which is 213 mil­lion units more than the im­port of around 5,585 mil­lion units from Bhutan. Ex­port of elec­tric­ity to Nepal and Bangladesh in­creased by 2.5 times and 2.8 times, re­spec­tively, dur­ing the last three years or so.

An­other achieve­ment of Piyush Goyal has been the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Deen­dayal Upad­hyay Gram Jy­oti Yo­jna (DDUGJY), a replica of the pi­o­neer­ing Jy­oti­gram Yo­jna that Naren­dra Modi had ex­e­cuted in his ten­ure as Gu­jarat’s Chief Min­is­ter. Launched by the PM on 25 July 2015, the DDUGJY is a ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion scheme that fo­cuses on feeder sep­a­ra­tion ( ru­ral house­holds and agri­cul­tural con­sumers) and strength­en­ing of sub­trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion in­fra­struc­ture, so as to pro­vide 24X7 power to ru­ral house­holds and ad­e­quate power to farm­ers.

As per data sub­mit­ted by states, 18,452 vil­lages were not elec­tri­fied as on 1 April 2015. Out of this, 13,511 vil­lages have been elec­tri­fied un­der the DDUGJY as on 19 May 2017—by no means a mean and swift achieve­ment. Like­wise, the DDUGJY pro­posed to pro­vide elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions to about 4.5 crore un-elec­tri­fied house­holds by 2022; as per Power Min­istry data as of April 2017, in un­der two years, of this nearly 2.6 crore house­holds have been given free elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions. It may be un­der­scored that be­tween 2005, when the Ra­jiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyu­tikaran Yo­jna was launched and 2013; in a pe­riod of eight years, just a lit­tle over 2 crore house­holds were pro­vided free elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions. Like­wise, the DDUGJY has mon­i­tored well the qual­ity and quan­tity of power in ru­ral areas, by putting in place a ru­ral feeder mon­i­tor­ing scheme that cov­ers all 1 lakh ru­ral and farm feed­ers.

The UJALA (Un­nat Jy­oti by af­ford­able LEDs for All) ini­tia­tive is an­other suc­cess story. The world’s largest LED dis­tri­bu­tion pro­gramme, over 23 crore LED bulbs were dis­trib­uted un­der UJALA across the coun­try in three years wherein two free of cost LED bulbs were given to vil­lagers. Not only would this brighten homes, it is es­ti­mated that con­sumers would save huge amounts in their elec­tric­ity bills.

An­other area where Goyal in­vested his at­ten­tion and re­sources is clean en­ergy—a pet theme of his boss, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. The Re­new­able En­ergy depart­ment saw a six-fold in­crease in its bud­get in 201617, from Rs 1,500 crore to Rs 9,000 crore. A to­tal of 7,060 MW of grid con­nected re­new­able power ca­pac­ity was added in 2015-16, far ex­ceed­ing the tar­get of 4,460 MW. The same year wit­nessed the largest ever ad­di­tion to wind power ca­pac­ity— of 3,423 MW, ex­ceed­ing the tar­get by 43%. It also saw the big­gest ever in­cre­ment to so­lar ca­pac­ity, when 3,019 MW was added, ex­ceed­ing the tar­gets by 116%. As­ton­ish­ingly, 2016-17 saw for the first time ever net ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion of re­new­able power ex­ceed­ing that of con­ven­tional power. Clearly, the foun­da­tions of a greener to­mor­row are be­ing put in place as­sid­u­ously by the NDA govern­ment.

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