India is on the cusp of a big leap towards achieving 24×7 power supply for all its citizens and there is enough scope in the system to reduce power tariff along the way,coal and power minister Piyush Goyal has said.
“We’ve had a historical one year, almost broken every record possible on the way and at the end of the first year, looking at our short-term and medium-term plans, I have absolutely no hesitation that we can, we will, achieve 24×7 power,” Goyal told TOI in an interview.
He accepted that transmission bottleneck was proving a handicap since for the first time, the country had surplus power and surplus coal.
“Every one of our power plants has adequate coal for its requirement and there is no critical plant left,” he said. “I am standing on the cusp of a situation where I say and accept there is a transmission bottleneck. But all other indicators vindicate our work in the last year or so. For example, coal production is up 8.3% or 8.4%. Coal to power plants is up nearly 10%. Gas-fired power plants are now getting revived after the successful auctions,” he added.
Goyal said the government had brought fuel supply under “some sort of control”, which had brought energy deficit down to the lowest level in history at 3.6%, while generation was up 8.5%.
To prove his point, Goyal gave the example of questions MPs raise in Parliament. “If you look at the questions of the monsoon session and the winter session, monsoon (questions) was about 60-70% of coal shortage, winter may have been 30-35%. This session, I did not have one single question, starred or unstarred, regarding coal shortage,” he said.
These improvements, Goyal said, were made without having to raise tariff. He said honest and efficient systems could improve viability. “And if you harness the power of technology and think out of the box, a combination of all these together, I believe, can bring down tariffs.”
As an example, he said some states had T&D losses, power theft upwards of 40-50%. “There is a state which has 70%. Many states are in the region of 30-50%. I have very often held a view and I am public about it that if you run your operations inefficiently, you ca’t expect your consumer to pay for your inefficiencies.”