The two-day Conference of State Power, New & Renewable Energy & Mines Ministers concluded in Vadodara, Gujarat on Sunday. It was attended by Ministers and senior Officials from the 20 participating States and 2 Union Territories, Secretaries and officers of the Union Ministries of Power, Coal, New& Renewable Energy and Mines, along with the Chairpersons of Central and State PSUs.
Addressing the media after the conclusion of the two-day conference, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Piyush Goyal, informed that consensus was achieved on various important issues without any disagreement and the future plan of action was finalized with the State Ministers during the marathon deliberations.
Informing about the Ujwal DISCOMs Assurance Yojana (UDAY), Goyal expressed positiveness that all States would come overboard by the end of November, 2016 so that they can complete the formalities of signing the MoUs by December this year and complete the process of issuing bonds by March, 2017.
The Minister expressed confidence that 100% Rural Electrification, including villages in LWE Districts and dense forests, would be achieved by 1st May, 2017, one year ahead of schedule as set by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Further, the Minister informed that the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) is in the process of drawing up a scheme for extending long term basis soft loans to the States at a flat rate to achieve 100% household electrification across the States for both APL & BPL population.
Talking about the achievements in proactive governance in the Power sector, Goyal noted that all the States have now come on the URJA map after which the consumers will receive real time information in advance through sms about every power outage in their area, whether planned or non-planned. The Minister also informed that 2600 census towns, hitherto not covered under the IPDS Scheme, have been brought under the programme for IT enablement.
Using the two-day conference as a platform, the Minister has urged all the States to undertake a drive to sanitize all the data that they provide to the centre for disseminating to the people through various mobile apps. “This would bring accuracy in the figures provided to the people and save the Government from various controversies”, he added.
In the Hydro power sector, the Minister detailed out a number of issues that were discussed and on which consensus was achieved during the conference. Most important of these were, forming of a new committee which would work in mission mode to get the 22 stalled large hydro power projects started and inject fresh investment to make them viable in the next 3 months.
Further, with a wide consensus, it was decided to give Hydro power a renewable energy status and a separate Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation (RPO) should be set up for the hydro sector.
The Minister has asked REC & Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to work out a plan to assist stressed and stalled small hydro power projects in the country to make them viable and get them restarted at the earliest. It was also decided that the States would be given incentives to comply with the RPOs.
“A National Electricity Plan has been prepared to forecast the actual demand of electricity in real time and to attract new investments in the sector to promote new power generation capacity”, the Minister informed the media.
Talking about a new initiative, Goyal informed that the Government would aid the setting up of small solar units by farmers, which would in turn power agricultural pump sets.
Regarding the Mines sector, the conference decided on a host of issues. Secretary, Mines, Balvinder Kumar informed the media that all the States except Tamil Nadu will implement the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana by end of this month, the Mining Surveillance System for major minerals will be launched by the next fortnight across the states, under the National Mineral Policy G4 level of exploration of 80 blocks of 100 sq. km each will be carried out by March 2017. Further, he added that the Ministry has asked Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala and Uttarakhand to modify their rules to enable auctioning of minor mineral blocks.
Finally, in the concluding remarks, Goyal informed the gathering that taking forward this remarkable journey of cooperative federalism the next State Power Ministers’ Conferences would be held in Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and subsequently in Rajgir (Bihar).