Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for establishment of model solar cities where the power needs are fulfilled solely by solar energy and gave thrust to manufacturing of solar equipment, which will also help generate employment. Chairing a meeting to review the progress of key infrastructure sectors, including petroleum and natural gas, power, renewable energy and housing, the PM on Monday also called for greater emphasis on ethanol blending, and evolution of mechanisms, so that farmers can benefit the most from this process. He said that setting up of second-generation bio-ethanol refineries should be expedited, to utilise agricultural residues for this purpose. During the meeting, the PM also said that efforts can be made to make certain localities kerosene-free.
In a separate statement, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said that the Centre attaches the highest priority to job creation and has formulated a task force headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya that has been tasked with the challenge to provide reliable and timely data on employment, so that policies on employment can be formulated with a proper appreciation of impacts, based on credible data. Modi emphasised that manufacturing of solar equipment should be given priority, to drive employment generation, and derive maximum benefit from the renewable energy drive. Seeking a consolidated approach to various schemes, such as electrification, information technology networks and housing, the PM called for a focused approach on the 100 worst-performing districts in each case so that focussed corrective measures could be taken. He also directed that future reviews should focus on problems at the district level, so that the progress of poorly performing districts can be better monitored.
The review meeting, during which Niti Aayog gave a presentation, also noted that the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has benefitted 1.98 crore below poverty line (BPL) households so far, while the contribution of gas to the primary energy mix has risen to eight per cent and 81 cities are being covered under City Gas Distribution Networks. It was also brought to notice of the PM that over 13,000 villages have already been electrified out of a total of 18,452. In a separate statement, the PMO said India suffers from a lack of reliable and timely data on employment, which has made it difficult for policy makers and independent observers to assess the extent of employment generation at different points of time. In view of this, Modi has directed the PMO and ministries concerned to come up with a solution to fill this long-standing gap in the country’s statistical architecture. The task force will recommend solutions which can be implemented in a time-bound manner. The PM has directed that this task be expedited.