The chairman of the Foundation for Integrated Resource Management (FIRM) and former director general of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) VK Bahuguna has written to the Union Minister of State for new and renewable energy, Piyush Goyal regarding removal of “irritants” in the implementation of the ministry’s roof-top grid connected power scheme in Uttarakhand.
He has stated that the scheme of rooftop solar project is an innovative attempt by the Government to meet the targets commited by India in the Paris climate change deal to reduce its carbon emission intensity by 33-35 per cent from 2005. In order to meet this target, India needs to produce 100 gigawatt electricity from solar energy by 2022. But, so far India could manage to produce only 15 gigawatt by March 2017. The rooftop scheme, if implemented properly could meet this target easily.
Bahuguna further writes, “The scheme however, needs to be made more people-friendly as the empirical interpretation by the ministry officials has derailed this novel scheme in Uttarakhand. The tender document floated by the government for the schemes clearly defines he premises as ‘the land, building infrastructure or part or combination thereof including the rooftops owned by eligible consumer’. It appears as if the ministry wants only rooftops to be made eligible for subsidy and due to this the scheme is in limbo in Uttarakhand. There appears to be an intervention from the ministry that only rooftops will be eligible for the subsidy with a large number of people who want to utlilse their land area also for the scheme, also being rendered ineligible having made investments after winning the tender as has been the case in the past.
The precluding of land area of the premises from the scheme is a self-defeating attempt.” He goes on to state that the rooftop grid scheme has the vision to involve general masses in harnessing solar energy but lackadaisical attitude in clinically analysing the definition of the scheme will be detrimental to the causes of achieveing the targets. “Further, those farmers who have unproductive or poor return from lands could utilise parr of their land for production of the solar power to augment their income through solar power generation from their premises. To achieve a target of 100 gigawatt the country needs pragmatic and forward looking policies. There should not be any harm if the vacant/barren land in a premises is brought under solar power generation under this scheme and considering the investment people will not come forward to invest without the subsidy.” Citing these factors, Bahuguna has requested the union minister of State to modify the guidelines of the rooftop scheme and include all vacant and barren farm lands in a premise provided there is a building standing on the land.