SHIMLA: Union minister R K Singh today said power ministers of states and union territories are unanimous on achieving 100 per cent household electrification by December 2018 and all targeted 3.6-crore families will have access to electricity under the Saubhagya scheme by year-end.
The union power minister also said that the meeting took stock of the progress of the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and found the pace of work as satisfactory.
The IPDS is for strengthening power distribution networks in the town and covers all aspects like 33kV lines, 11kV lines, transformers, substations and meters. The minister said that 99 per cent of works under the IPDS have been awarded and progress has been made on them.
On household electrification target, Singh said, “When we started… last year, the total number of houses to be electrified was 3.6-crore, out of which we have already done 78 lakh. We are confident that we would able to do the remaining by December 31, 2018. The bulk of this is in larger states like Uttar Pradesh (1.2 crore).”
“…We have noted whatever difficulties there are and we have worked out ways and means of removing those difficulties. On this, all of us are clear that we will achieve our target by December 31,” Singh told reporters here after a conference of ministers for power and renewable energy of states and union territories.
On coal shortage issue, the minister said, “It has been an issue. About 14 per cent more coal is being supplied this year. But demand has grown much faster, that is a good thing. It shows that per capita income is increasing. We added 78 lakh new consumers. But in this interim period, we have to monitor very closely.”
Earlier in the day, the minister said that coal shortage situation will continue for 2 to 3 years until the new mines start production which generally takes 2 to 3 years to get operational.
Singh also said the ministry is also pushing for environment and forest clearance of new coal mines and also taking steps to build railway tracks and sidings for easy transportation.
On the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, Singh said, “We subscribe to …(it). But we are going to use the water which we are allowed to use under that (treaty).”
The minister also said the Centre is in the last stage of finalising hydro policy which would soon be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval.
The policy would provide longer loan repayment period which would ultimately avoid front-loading of the tariff, and hydropower rates would become competitive, he said.
Secondly, the policy provides for no free power component for first six years of operation of the hydropower plants that would leave the project with more resources to repay debt, Singh said, adding the free power supply would begin after six years of the plant’s commercial operations.
On environmental and other activism delaying projects, he said, “I don’t know how much of that activism is genuine or how much of activism is sponsored. I can say that because we saw in case of nuclear power that activism which was there… was sponsored, money came from abroad.
“In advance countries like Canada, Norway etc, they are exploiting 88 to 90 per cent of their hydropower potential. Why there is no agitation against them. Where are the green groups? I don’t know when green groups say hydro is disturbing the environment. I don’t know whether they are honest or they are being paid to do so.”
The ministers meet chaired by Singh also deliberated on schemes, including IPDS projects, including IT enablement phase II and UDAY scheme, for the revival of debt-laden discoms and its ambitious goal of providing 24×7 ‘Power for All’ from April 1, 2019.
They also took up reform agenda and discuss the proposed draft amendments in the provision of Captive Generating Plant in Electricity Rules, 2005 and flexibility in utilisation of coal-case 4 to tide over the coal crisis.
There was also a discussion on shifting hydropower projects from base station operation mode to peak load operation mode, energy conservation.
They reviewed progress on adoption of Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) by the states and the UTs.
The also talked about the establishment of standalone SDA (state-designated agency) for effective implementation of Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Programmes.
The meeting also discussed the compliance of RPO (renewable purchase obligation) targets and alignment of RPO trajectory as per trajectory by states/UTs.
Under the solar rooftop programme, the issues of non-implementation of net metering/rooftop policy by the states/UTs and solar rooftop power plants on government buildings also came up for discussion.