South Goa: The central government and states on Friday resolved to meet the target of taking electricity to all villages by the end of this year, ahead of the original 1 May, 2018 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union power minister Piyush Goyal said after a two day meeting with state ministers for power, renewable energy and coal.
Measures to cut down the use of diesel for power generation and to eliminate power theft will be taken up aggressively, Goyal told reporters after the meeting.
The meeting was held to discuss power sector reforms and the progress in the implementation of the turnaround scheme for state-run power distribution companies, the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) launched on 5 November.
Goyal said that all states had agreed to install tamper-proof smart meters for all new residential and commercial consumers, which will help in curtailing power theft.
“I am delighted to share that except for left-wing extremism affected areas and where terrain is tough, states have taken the rural electrification programme aggressively forward. Save in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, we will complete electrification of all villages by December 31, 2016,” Goyal said.
As per Modi’s 2015 plan, 18,452 un-electrified villages were to be electrified by 1 May, 2018. Once all villages are electrified, making sure that every household is connected and that power is available 24x7 will take a little longer.
Uninterrupted (24x7) power supply will be ensured for all by 2019, ahead of the 2022 deadline, said Goyal.
Village electrification and increasing the per capita consumptions of energy are being pursued to raise the living standards of people and to boost power demand. Due to cash flow problems faced by debt-laden state power distribution companies, power producers have been running their plants way below their full capacity.
Under UDAY, states were allowed to take over 75% of the outstanding power distribution company debt of Rs.4.3 trillion as of September 2015. The 12 states that have joined the scheme have raised funds through UDAY bonds to take over about 65% of the outstanding debt of their utilitiesand by this September, they will take over the entire mandated three-fourth of utility debt, said an official, who asked not to be named.
Eight more states are presently talking to the central government to join the scheme, said the official. The power ministry is working on a proposal to tweak the scheme to get them on board.
Coal secretary Anil Swarup, who was present on the occasion, said that at present diesel based sets are being used to generate power to a large extent (over 900 megawatts). “One idea is to map the use of these and to replace them with electricity from the grid. This will save environment and valuable foreign exchange in addition to improving demand for power (from the grid),” said Swarup.
Goyal said that to improve electricity demand, the government will promote replacement of generators, agriculture pumps, invertors and railway locomotives which run on diesel.
The minister said that it was also decided to set up a panel led by West Bengal power minister Manish Gupta to find ways of reviving stalled hydro power projects. The panel will submit its report by 30 September.
“It is resolved to formulate a pro-active comprehensive hydro power policy to revive the hydro power sector. The policy will also explore the possibility of providing to hydroelectric projects beyond 25 MW the benefits that are at present available to renewable energy projects,” Goyal said.