October 19, 2016

Keynote Address at Foundation Stone Laying ceremony of “Atal Akshay Urja Bhawan”, New Delhi

Mr Parvinder Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, the Coal Secretary was required to go for another meeting of the Inter-state Council so he’s not been able to come here. All the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who have joined us from various embassies and consulates, a warm welcome to you Excellencies, senior officials from the various ministries, players of the renewable energy sector from different streams of the renewable energy family, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t think Upendra ji could have given me a better gift before he lays down office as Secretary of New and Renewable Energy. And as I have said on more occasion than one, Mr Tripathi will neither tire nor retire. And I am sure he will continue to serve the sector. I have yet to see somebody so passionate about his work as Mr Upendra Tripathi. Of course, I don’t know how many ministries in the government of India can plan to have an office building of their own and within a space of two years and while on, for a person like me two years may be very very long. I am not at all happy about two years going about. But I don’t think in two years to be able to apply for a piece of land and come up to the stage of inaugurating or laying the foundation stone of the work that has to happen. I possibly believe this may be a record of sorts. Compliments to you and your entire team. Only maybe it could have been done a little faster if you had a batch mate in the other ministries. That was the only thing missing in all the people you complimented. So next time anyone of us has a program, has an ambitious project like this we quickly look up the batch mate who is there in the corresponding ministry and I have no doubt we can do it in faster than two years.

But I am really also delighted Upendra ji that you were able to take out Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji’s photograph and the fact that he had inaugurated the first wind farm. I don’t know, most people here may be aware that he’s been a mentor to me all my life. I have literally played in his arms from childhood and you couldn’t have thought of a better way to start the proceedings today. Thank you very much, thank you very much. In fact, Atalji had sung a poem, I have a lousy voice and I can’t even sing. My wife threatens me if I sing she will divorce me. But I will just say it in simple words – Aawo jalayein deep jahan ab bhi andhera hai – it’s a part of a longer poem. Let’s light the lamp where there still is darkness. And, in some sense, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, said it in a different context but truly carrying forward the vision and the mission that Prime Minister Vajpayee had initiated. When Mr Modi said, of course, he also said it poetically but I won’t venture to do that, and I will say it in Hindi, but for the benefit of my friends from foreign consulates and missions I will translate it. But Mr Modi had said in a public program – Maana andhera ghana hai, Maana andhera ghana hai, Lekin yaaro diya jalaana kahan mana hai. And what he meant was, I agree that there is a lot of darkness, but friends who has stopped you from lighting up that darkness. And, in some sense, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is working on a mission mode not only to light up people’s lives but to light it up in a sustainable manner, in a secure manner adding to India’s energy security, in an environmentally friendly manner to save the world from the serious impact that global climate change is having on future of the mankind. And towards that end, the ambitious goals that Mr Tripathi and his team have taken it upon themselves to achieve by 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of independence, are truly very very encouraging, very very praiseworthy. And a matter of pride for this government that a ministry which as Mr Tripathi said, was a small ministry, considered to be one of the unimportant ministries at one point of India today has emerged as one of the most ministries in the government of India, so much so, that possibly the investments in the years to come, thanks to this, will out-beat any other ministries’ investments.

I was doing a judgment calculation on the different projects that the government is taking up, and I include the railways, I include civil aviation, I include the highway program, all of these are large projects of investment. But if I calculate the amount of money we are going to invest in the, through the New and Renewable Ministry, I think it will out-shadow all of them by a month. And, particularly, with the greater thrust being given worldwide to this subject and the availability of greater degree of technology, more economically viable solutions to cleaning the world, better energy methods to make power more affordable, also with the advent of clean energy finance which in the days to come, will make renewable energy even more competitive and advantageous. I have no doubt in my mind that our mission and today our commitment, instead of our Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), now they are our commitment and we have accepted that we will endeavour to do 40% of our installed energy base, installed power base in the country through renewable energy needs. And I think that’s a big leap forward from where we are today. It’s a big statement that the government of India has made. Across the world it has been appreciated, countries around the world are wanting to emulate and learn from India’s experiments, our actions on renewable energy, on energy efficiency, energy conservation. And, as Prime Minister Modi often says, and I am sure all the Secretaries may have heard it before, it is time now for India to come out of the shadows and rather than follow the world it is India’s time to lead the world. And renewable energy and energy conservation will be two areas where we will lead the world. Of course, the building is very pretty but I am now given to understand after listening to Mr Tripathi that everybody seems to have already divided a piece of the cake. Building seems to have all been allotted. I would just like to request you publicly if you can leave a small office for me also I will be grateful to you.

But it’s delightful to see that a lot of pain and a lot of effort has gone into conceptualizing and designing this building. I would like to thank CPWD for all the effort that they have put in. Very often, CPWD’s efforts go unsung despite the fact that they have made some wonderful buildings and iconic structures, particularly in Delhi. We have just seen them build some lovely buildings including a Museum in Rashtrapati Bhavan. And I have no doubt in my mind that CPWD and its officials will take this project as a challenge to create the best building that Delhi has seen, truly an iconic structure, a net zero or possibly a net positive energy efficient building. And I can assure all officials of CPWD here and those who are not here I hope the word will carry to them that if they do a good job here it will open up a hell of a lot of opportunity for CPWD in the future; A – because we have under our group of ministries a lot of construction happening across the country and we will be delighted to partner with CPWD in expanding this work together. And B – It will also help CPWD get and improve their standards of execution and their quality standards that they are currently employing. So it’s a great opportunity for them to get more contemporariness in terms technology, in terms of better building efficiencies and building designs. And it’s a great opportunity for us to work together with CPWD and help improve the entire ecosystem around construction that India has as of date. I would also like to compliment the architects who have worked relentlessly to come up with this design. Edifice Consultants Pvt Ltd was chosen after a very rigorous and competitive process where we took designs through a competitive mode from several architects around the country, not only Delhi base but around the country. And I am delighted that Edifice has emerged through a transparent and competitive process. I am sure they will leave no stone unturned to come with the best that they can. Again, I am one fellow you satisfy the world will open up for you. And I am not being boastful I am only trying to tell you that there will be a lot of people coming here. Now with the International Solar Alliance also being housed here till it gets its own building ready. You will have an international exposure that your design and your building will have. Maintain the highest standards of design as well as construction and do make sure that you don’t let us down. It’s a very very prestigious project for all of us. However, I never knew that you have allocated two years for the construction of this. That’s absolutely not acceptable. Today building construction technologies have become very very robust. They are much faster than ever before. I have just given a contract last month to construct the headquarters of my political party, the Bhartiya Janta Party headquarters are coming up in exactly a similar area 2.5 acres or so. It will have about 4 lakh sq ft built-up area, slightly more than yours but that doesn’t really matter whether its 2.5-4 or 40 lakhs, there are enough technologies in this country. I have given them time up to 25th December which is the birthday of former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I am hoping to be able to gift him that building or rather my party is hoping to gift him that building 25th December, 2017. And now that you have associated Vajpayeeji with this program I don’t think I can give you a day longer than that. So 25th December, 2017 we will have two buildings, hopefully, both being inaugurated by the honourable Prime Minister; one the political party’s headquarter which will also be a net positive energy-efficient building and another that the government will construct. And let there be a healthy competition between both. So let’s look at 25th December and, by the way, my Pert chart of that building is planning to complete it somewhere by October. So that we have two months time just for any unforeseen circumstances, I don’t like to hear the word force majeure or excuses.

So the architects and CPWD kindly note. Santosh who is going to head it from our side? You will? So your time starts now.

A lot can be said about renewable energy. A lot can be said about our plans for renewable energy, everybody knows that we are looking at a 175 GW by 2022 and as I said 40% of total installed capacity base by 2030. However, this is without large hydro above 25 MW. I now have a study carried out by the Power Secretary and his team which demonstrates that, save and except, four or five countries almost universally in the world, hydro power is considered renewable. In fact, from the day I became minister I have not been able to understand this distinction and how and where and when this distinction started. So we are almost on the verge of finalizing that report, we should shortly be taking it up to the cabinet. But I do believe hydro power of all sizes and shapes should be considered a part of renewable energy. And I am not trying to cut corners and say ok 175 MW will now include large hydro and therefore scale down my ambition. When I add large hydro to renewable energy I will add that much more capacity to renewable energy. So I think we will go closer to 230 GW or maybe even more than that, once I have added the…. And rightly, the addition is not out of any, I think the distinction today is very artificial, I am only righting a wrong. So we will probably then be scaling up our renewable energy to that level and which we may obviously then make, somebody asked a question that whether we do really need to have two ministries working on this. And then there will be a competition between Mr Pujari and Mr Tripathi about who is the bigger minister. So I think maybe the time has come to also for both of you to sit down and think whether we do really need two ministries. Should not we have the power sector under one head because there is a lot of synergy between the two? I am proceeding to a number of meetings in few countries in Australia and then in some European capitals to discuss about the integration of the grid, particularly, in the light of such large inflow of renewable energy, solar and wind and biomass, hydro, all of this coming into the system. And in a situation where we don’t have enough gas to provide spinning reserves. So there are serious challenges to such a massive program. But I would like to reassure each one in this function today that there is no challenge to which we cannot find a solution. Each one of these are only seen as an opportunity to better our whole system to improve the entire ecosystem of the electricity sector in India. You are all aware that UDAY is taking good shape. Rajasthan, which was the country’s highest loss-making DISCOM, I am happy to share with you ladies and gentlemen, will possibly be the first state to turn around and start reporting profits by next year. Within, one and a half year of UDAY we will have a state DISCOM starting to generate profits from a level of Rs 15,000 crore annual losses, highest in the country, 25% of the national losses was in one state. But I would like to compliment the Ministry of Power and all the officials and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shrimati Vasundhra Raje Scindia, and her entire team for the outstanding effort that they have put in. And the way the entire ecosystem has conspired to turn that state around. They were the first to take on the burden of the bonds onto the state balance sheet without batting an eyelid, and it has caused a lot of stress to that state’s finances. But they decided to bite the bullet, they decided to take this challenge. NTPC and its team is working closely with their generation company to help bring down the cost of generating power. The Coal Ministry is working very very efficiently to rationalize coal linkages, ensure availability of adequate coal, eliminate coal imports. And the entire ecosystem has decided that we are going to turn that state around into a profit.

And that’s what we would like to do in Uttar Pradesh, that’s what we would like to do in Haryana, that’s what we would like to do in Tamil Nadu and I am very very confident that all of these steps will help every DISCOM in this country turn the corner before this term of this government ends. I said ‘this term’, I have not said that ‘our term in government’. So we are only talking up to 2019 when we go back to the people and we do hope all of you will continue to give the same support and blessings to this government so that we can continue to serve the nation, we can continue to provide leadership to this country’s efforts, not only to emerge as a regional superpower but to meet the aspirations of each and every citizen of India and become a world superpower.

There have been certain stresses that renewable energy has faced in recent times, particularly, in relation to signing of power purchase agreements, in some states evacuation of power. Now these are things which are going to come up off and on. I often get the feedback, I get messages, I get letters saying that, oh, this will kill the renewable energy program and after this nobody will invest in renewable energy. I think some of them need to have a look at how the power sector or the road sector has suffered in the last 10 years before they come to any conclusion about this small hiccup in the renewable energy sector. And, really this hiccup is of my own doing. I was sharing with somebody who had come to me this afternoon in my office that if at all these PPAs are getting delayed in signing, there is only one person to blame and that is me. And to some extent, then this team sitting over here and the Coal Secretary. Because all of them have worked together while on the one hand to bring down the cost of renewable energy to much more affordable levels but at the same time the rest of the power has become even cheaper and even more affordable. So by making power available 24/7 for state DISCOMs literally on time through the power exchanges, there is not a single minute in this country that power is not available for any DISCOM that wants to buy it to serve the people of their state. It’s available  24/7 and available at usually sub-Rs 3 prices, at times even at Rs 1, Rs 1.5, Rs 2. But never, except a day or two in a month has it gone beyond Rs 3. I don’t know what the tariff is right now on the power exchange.

So, in some sense, the states have got greedy. Now the states are asking why should we buy power at Rs 5.5 and Rs 6 when solar is available at Rs 4.5 or thermal power is available at even less than that, much less than that. So I take the blame for these delays on the PPAs. I stand guilty before you. But I can only reassure you that I am in dialogue with all the states. We are working to once again get the enthusiasm back in terms of signing the PPAs. I think my team is also working to look at an escalating cost curve so that our tariffs can start at a lower level and gradually escalate over the years just like any other source of energy does. And, therefore, reduce the stress on the DISCOMs and the people of India of today while at the same time providing a source of energy which will add to India’s energy security, which will help India become a more environmentally conscious country and serve the people of India for years and years to come.

By the way, as we speak now, the average market clearing price is Rs 2.52 on the power exchange at this point of time. There is 2,500 MW available but if that should get bought I am sure there is a lot more waiting to come and be fed into the grid. And by and large, most of North India is available at Rs 2.64. I think some states in South it has gone up to Rs 3.30. NTPC please note, it’s an opportunity for you to make some money. And NLC is not here, somebody please convey to the NLC Chairman also. There is a killing at Rs 3.30, all our profits will go up. So this is the time for our sector. It’s the time for us to serve the people of India so that not by 2022, which was the original stated mission of this government but three years ahead of schedule, by 2019 itself, we should be able to take this country to greater heights, make sure every citizen of this country gets affordable, good quality power, make sure that every farmer of this country gets adequate power when he needs it to till his land to provide water to his fields, make sure no child in this country, no child ever again, has to study below a street light or under a kerosene lamp, make sure no death occurs in any hospital because the lights went out at the wrong time. And in that, ladies and gentlemen, I appeal to each one of you to participate in this mission, not for a job, not for your profit and loss account, not for the bonuses that it can get you. But please look at upon this as a duty, as a responsibility that we owe to future generations in this country. Look upon this program as a program that serves humanity, not just India, not just Indians but it truly serves the human race. Because they are two big challenges that the world is facing today – terrorism and climate change.

I know we can trust Prime Minister Modi and the Indian Army to take care of the problem of terrorism. Let us become the soldiers to fight against the terror of climate change.

Thank you very much.

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