April 11, 2017

Speaking at “Launch of Urja Mitra and Inauguration of Rural Feeder Monitoring Scheme”, New Delhi

Thank you very much ma’m, Pujari sahab, Shalini ji, Mr AK Verma, Mr Verma from CEA, Mr Gupta, Ritu Maheshwari, all the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who have assembled here today, friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen. Mr Pujari was just now mentioning about various schemes and apps from this venue. I hope you are not being sarcastic that कुछ ज्यादा ही हो रहा है .

But I really feel happy that on this public sector day, our colleagues from a public sector company have been able to come up with world-class interventions which can really help India’s consumers interface with the electricity distribution system, and truly ensure what Mahatma Gandhi had once said, the customer is king, and end of the day, we have to satisfy every customer, can actually happen within the government sphere, within the workings of the public sector undertakings. And I was reminded of a quote from Keith Ferrazzi, an American author, ‘Power today comes from sharing information, not withholding it.’

And I am really delighted that today’s launch of Urja Mitra, in some sense, shares information with the consumer, honest information, empowers the consumer to be more demanding to demand better service, empower him with information so that he can plan his life better. And we are preparing the nation to truly get 24/7 power, affordable power, quality power, uninterrupted power, adequate power and I would like to compliment REC, all the colleagues from the company, which has truly made this happen with a lot of perseverance and a lot of hard work. Rituji, you and I am sure a lot of your colleagues here, who must have all burnt the midnight oil to make this happen, deserve the highest accolades and my compliments to all of you.

In fact, you will be happy to know only on Sunday, day before yesterday; I met with the honorable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanathji. And he did not know that we are launching Urja Mitra or that we have this programme today at all. In fact, how would he know because Uttar Pradesh wasn’t even willing to share information before he came in. So there is no question of knowing what are the new initiatives. But in his own way, and I am sharing this with you because it’s very interesting. He said, Piyushji, जब हम छोटे थे तब कोई न कोई पत्र आता था हमारे घर में कि आपके घर में इस समय से इस समय बिजली नहीं आएगी, या पोस्ट कार्ड आता था या कोई लाइन्स मैन आके सूचना देके जाता था मुहल्ले में कि इस समय से इस समय बिजली नहीं आएगी | क्या ऐसी कुछ व्यवस्था अभी हम बना सकते हैं क्या कि लोगों को जानकारी पहले से मिल जाए, बिजली कब आएगी, कब जायेगी, कब मिलेगी, कब नहीं रहेगी जिससे व्यक्ति अपने जीवन को उसके हिसाब से मैनेज कर सके, प्लान कर सके जबतक कि हम चौबीस घंटे बिजली नहीं दे पाते |

And I knew about this programme today so I shared with him. I said we have about 8 crore consumers already logged on to a new app which I will be launching shortly, and I urged him that Uttar Pradesh should also join in this new initiative so that all the consumers of Uttar Pradesh also can be monitored through this app. They can all feed in the mobile number, Aadhar number and consumer supply number, just like Andhra Pradesh has done for over 1.25 crore consumers so that all the people of Uttar Pradesh also can be benefitted from this very very delightful experience that is being proposed by the government of India. I must also thank Mr Pujari and his team for having agreed to provide 100% funding through a grant for metering of all the rural feeders in the country. So as Ritu just mentioned, out of 1,05,000 rural and agricultural feeders, about 30,000 are already metered and connected to the system.

Of course, I was told that only 8000 of them are giving the data into the system. In the past, when meters were set up, modems were either not set up or if they were set up they had not being working for so many years. So despite having a feeder meter, we are unable to capture that data. एक तरीके से यह विडम्बना है | I fail to understand how systems have operated in the past. So you spend money on a feeder but if you are not going to use the data that it generates, it’s a complete loss of public money. And we have made it a point that the balance 22,000 meters also will have modems which will start functioning, providing data into the feeders. As Ritu mentioned and as I have just launched this new scheme to provide 100% government grant from the Power System Development Fund for setting up feeder monitoring systems in the balance 75,000 meters which will obviously come with modems, which will communicate to the grid and which will also have an ONM for 5 years built in, so that we are not even dependent on the states to maintain these feeders and these modems.

So I am sure, as we complete this project by December? December, 2017 is the deadline that we have set for ourselves, it’s a very ambitious target. If the nation has come so far with 30,000 feeder meters, we want to add 75,000 in the next 8 months. But I think that’s what this government loves to take on. We love to take on challenges. We love to take on aggressive targets and are confident of achieving them, so that all the 1,05,000 feeders in the country start communicating with the system, providing us the data we can identify where the actual losses are taking place and, therefore, serve the consumers better.

In fact, the future of India lies in its villages. And unless the villages prosper, unless we can take a better quality of life into the village, जब तक गावों के ग्रामीण इलाकों में, गरीबों में, किसानों में पूरी तरीके से ऊर्जा की सुविधा नहीं पहुँचती है तब तक मैं समझता हूँ इस देश का विकसित होना असंभव है | और यह जो ज़िम्मेदारी प्रधानमंत्री श्री मोदी जी ने हम सबको दी है कि इस देश में 2022 के पहले हर घर को 24 घंटे बिजली मिले, हर खेत को पर्याप्त मात्रा में बिजली मिले, इस ज़िम्मेदारी को पूरा करने के लिए हम सब प्रतिबद्ध है, हम सब संकल्पित है | हम इसको पूरी तरीके से पूरा करेंगे, करके ही रहेंगे और शायद समय-सीमा के बहुत पहले ही करके देश को पूरी तरीके से ऊर्जा से लाभान्वित करेंगे |

I am delighted at the good work that Andhra Pradesh has done. They have been able to connect all their 1.25 crore consumers into the system. They have sent out over 2 crore SMSs already. I was just taking a review with Ajay and I find that between their two DISCOMs, one almost runs seamlessly 24/7 without any outages, in the other one they have a average of about 1 outage in a week, which also is barely 7-8 minutes in a day when translated on a daily basis. But I am sure they must be working towards addressing that also so that they can completely ensure adequate power supply in every farm and 24 hours power supply for industry, commerce, households.

And really, that’s the way the entire nation expects the power distribution system to work. UDAY has been very well received except for I think one state in the east, and Meghalaya is left? Nagaland is left, so 2 states left. We have 27 states on board. Nagaland we are already talking to. They will probably sign up for the operational efficiencies. I don’t know whether we have given up on the last state. Yeah, we can, but I don’t know whether there’s an interest to serve the people of that state with better efficiency or whether politics is going to prevail over good economics. I leave it for the wisdom of that state and its leadership to decide or at the earliest opportunity for the people of that state to decide, whether they want to continue in this system of not progress but taking their state back or they want to look for a better set of people to run their state or serve their state.

I am also delighted that we are looking at Uttar Pradesh very seriously. Uttar Pradesh is the last state which had not signed Power For All – 24/7. I am glad that my officials and the officials of Uttar Pradesh started working on it on the election counting day itself. By the evening, on 11th evening, the whole system had got activated. See the power of good governance and the power of a change that the same officials who until 10th March were unable to even enter into that agreement. And now it’s quite clear, that they were able to do it, but possibly, the political masters were holding them back. But from 11th evening itself, the teams have been working. I think two weeks back or last Saturday-Sunday they were working round the clock in the PFC office in Delhi. And I am delighted to share with all of you that on 14th April, on the birth anniversary of Baba Sahed Ambedkarji , we shall be executing Power For All document with the last state in the country, Uttar Pradesh, in Lucknow.

And for any of you who are interested in participating in that programme, I would urge you to travel to Lucknow on the 14th, where Maharajji, the honorable Chief Minister Yogi Adityanathji, somebody who has from the word ‘go’ been on the move to serve his people, been actively working in a variety of areas to bring down the rot in the system that had set in over the last 15 years, bring back good governance to the state of Uttar Pradesh, bring in development and progress for the people of Uttar Pradesh. And from whatever I have seen in the last 15-20 days, I have no doubt in my mind that we will be able to make Uttar Pradesh a model state with the joint efforts both of the centre and the state even in the area of electricity, in the area of power supply.

Some of the statistics that have come out in the course of the last two weeks as we have been working on the Power For All document are absolutely mindboggling and terrible. I can’t even share it with you. Maybe we should share it on the 14th from Lucknow. But some of the figures and some of the facts that have come out only strengthen my feeling that we should come out with a white paper on the state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh so that the people know exactly the deep rot that had set in into that state and its working. And I would urge my officials to really work with the state and come out with the reality of what really prevailed in that state. Why did that state go down despite being rich with agriculture, rich with so much hard working people, so much wealth in that state. Unfortunately, we have not been able to develop that state.

I hope that not too many SMSs are required to be sent out from Urja Mitra. So we will have to make more effort to make sure the distribution companies work more efficiently so that the SMSs are of the last resort, they are kept to a minimum. As it is, I think most people in the room must be tired of receiving too many messages. But there is one saying, that I get 99 SMSs in a day, let the 100th one atleast be more useful. And I am sure that, God forbid, if power has to be shut down anywhere and a message has to be sent to somebody, I hope it will help maybe save a life somewhere, help somebody plan his studies better, help a housewife plan her cooking or dinner schedule better.

And, therefore, I think this Urja Mitra app can really be life-changing and game-changing for millions of people in this country. Even a hospital can then plan their operations better if they know when exactly power will come or go. Of course, not to take away from the ultimate objective that we have to give 24/7 power for all.

In the meantime, I would urge all the states to join in this excellent initiative, to be a part of this effort so that anywhere in the country if there is a problem of power outage, the people know about it in advance. If there is a sudden outage, people know how long it will last, what was the cause of that? How it will not happen again? And, also this will help people call up the helpline no. 1912. We will have a common helpline all over India – 1912 – with which the state DISCOMs will be connected. If anybody was to make a call with his mobile number if it is seeded along with Aadhar and his consumer connection number on the Urja Mitra App, we will quickly be able to take his compliant right down to the feeder which serves any consumer in the country. That’s the objective.

At a later stage we are also going to look at geo-tagging on this app so that consumers will know exactly what is happening on his feeder, and the feeder will know exactly from where the consumer is facing any difficulty. It’s truly a customer-focused approach that Urja Mitra is trying to propagate. One more app, but I am sure one more app that will serve the people of India, serve all of us towards a better life. I am sure the Prime Minister’s vision to take power for all which he had started in Gujarat as the Chief Minister and very rapidly turned around the situation of power sector in Gujarat, will be translated across the country from Jotirgaon, which started in Gujarat to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana nationally. The journey towards power for all is progressing at a rapid pace. I wish all of you the very best in this journey.

Thank you very much for being with us today.

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