A tough-talking Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge), for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, told States that ‘satisfactory’ performances were not enough to achieve the target of electricity for all households by December 2018.
Acknowledging that collating data on rural as well household electrification is not easy, Goyal told the two-day Conference of Power, Renewable Energy and Mines Ministers of States and UTs that the onus lies with the States to be more transparent. Of about 1,786.02 lakh rural households, about 1,324.88 lakh are electrified.
The challenges in achieving 24×7 power for all were not over yet, and in the next 3-4 months, a final push would be needed to electrify the remaining villages, he added.
Goyal pointed to the enormity of the task of reaching all these villages, creating infrastructure, and releasing connections to households in a time-bound manner. The completion of this task would require unprecedented efforts by all the stakeholders, particularly the State discoms, he noted. “How do we make the situation more attractive for investors by offering a fixed-tariff concept for 10 years and how can we have better regional control on the grid, are some of the issues that need to be discussed,” he said .
No help later
Goyal had harsh words for some States who have missed earlier meetings of Ministers. He said: “The absence of Maharashtra was felt many times…Jo bhag na le woh bhag ley (the States who do not find time to participate in this meeting should go away) …they should not come back later seeking help.”
The objective of the conference is to review the work done in the sectors of power, coal, renewable energy and mining by State Governments/Union Territories, he said.
It further intends to forge new policies to achieve the goal of providing 24×7 quality and affordable power for all.
Defending the disparities that have come out between the data shown in the Power Ministry apps and the electrification seen on the ground, Goyal said: “The data is fed by the States, here we just copy-paste and upload it. Instances have been brought to our notice where, in some cases, the villages named for rural electrification are uninhabited.
“A similar situation can emerge for household electrification drive.” The States, he indicated, have to take responsibility for this.