Some states not cooperating with centre for development: Piyush Goyal

Power ministry looking at seeding a power fund to bail out stressed projects that have been left in the lurch

Gaurav Mishra
Updated28 May 2015
Energy minister Piyush Goyal accused the previous Congress governments in three states&#8212;Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana&#8212;of fiscal imprudence. Photo: PTI<br />
Energy minister Piyush Goyal accused the previous Congress governments in three states&#8212;Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana&#8212;of fiscal imprudence. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Some states are not cooperating enough with the centre for their own development, energy minister Piyush Goyal said on Wednesday as he presented a year-end progress report of the ministries headed by him—power, coal and new and renewable energy.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government completed its first anniversary on 26 May.

“Some state governments have not cooperated as much as they should have; we urge them to increase it. Otherwise, they would receive an appropriate response from the electorate in the coming days,” said Goyal while addressing a press meet in New Delhi.

Goyal blamed these states for not cooperating with the centre.

Goyal also accused the previous Congress governments in three states—Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana—of fiscal imprudence.

All three are currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The states have been fiscally imprudent over the last several years. In the case of Rajasthan, Vasundhra Raje (chief minister) inherited it in a complete state of collapse. The government of Rajasthan, between 2008 and 2013, had ruined the discoms (electricity distribution companies) of Rajasthan, causing loss of nearly 15,000 crore per year. Similarly, the erstwhile government of Maharashtra had completely ruined the discoms of Maharashtra,” said Goyal.

State electricity boards, with a debt of 3.04 trillion and losses of 2.52 trillion, are on the brink of financial collapse.

Goyal’s statement comes in the backdrop of the NDA government’s efforts to usher in an era of what it calls cooperative federalism, marked by greater cooperation between the centre and the states.

As part of this, the centre has taken steps, such as increasing the states’ share of the central divisible pool of taxes and the setting up of the NITI Aayog in place of the Planning Commission.

On the likely power shortage that Delhi is expected to face this summer, the minister said the state had the resources to generate enough power.

“We conducted bidding of gas recently, but they (the Delhi government) didn’t participate. Cheap electricity, especially during the peak hours, could have been made available for the people of Delhi through this process,” he said.

Goyal’s comments come in the middle of a tussle between the Delhi government and lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung over jurisdiction in the city-state.

Despite possessing 300 billion tonnes of coal reserves, India imports coal to meet its power requirements. The government plans to increase India’s coal production to 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020, with Coal India Ltd (CIL) responsible for producing 1 billion tonnes, in a bid to do away with the need to import coal.

“In the coming days, we are going to open more than 60 mines,” said Goyal, adding that the move is a step in the process of India becoming “self-reliant” in coal production.

Goyal also spoke about creating a fund to bail out stressed power projects that have been left in the lurch. “I am in touch with the banks to see the extent of their problems,” said Goyal. “Several projects have now come on stream. But if there’s still some stress, we are looking at seeding a power fund, which could be supplemented with the support of international investors, a lot of whom have shown interest.”

India’s per capita power consumption, about 940 kilowatt-hour (kWh), is among the lowest in the world—by comparison, China consumes 4,000 kWh per capita and rich nations average 15,000kWh per capita.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 267,637 MW.

Goyal also stressed the need for energy conservation and said work on rolling out light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs has begun.

“If, in the coming 3-4 years, all households employ LEDs, we can save peak load in the amount of 27,000 MW. This will reduce 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission per year,” he said.

The emphasis on LEDs is expected to strengthen the country’s standing at global climate change negotiations that culminate in a summit in Paris in December.

“We have brought down the price of LED bulbs from 310 last February (2014) to 250 in September, 149 in November, 102 this February and finally 81.3 in March—a decrease of 74%,” Goyal added.

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