June 24, 2017

Speaking at The State of State Conclave: Rajasthan, Jaipur

Members of the India Today Group, ladies and gentlemen. Before I came here today, I did a review of the power sector in Rajasthan. Rajasthan was one of the first states to join the Power For All 24/7 commitment that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had initiated as soon as the new government came in in Delhi. I recall, probably the 1st or 2nd visitor to my office after I became the Power Minister was Ms Raje, and she was agitated. She was a truly concerned Chief Minister, telling me the story that she had inherited in the state how from 2008 to 2011, barely in 3 years, the losses of Rajasthan had increased from 2,300 crores to 21,000 crores in barely 3 years soon after she had demitted office in her earlier tenure. And, how when in 2013, she took charge of the state’s government, she inherited a power sector which was making an annual loss of 15,000 crores, annually, out of the nearly 80,000 crore debt that she had to bring under the UDAY programme.

Nearly 60,000 crores or so was debt accumulated because of losses in barely 5 years, and because of that accumulated debt, obviously, you have interest on interest and then it keeps accumulating to insurmountable levels. And, from a situation of Rs 15,000 crore annual loss that Rajasthan was suffering, I am delighted to share with you that thanks to the very very focused and sincere efforts of this government in Rajasthan, in barely 2 years, along with some support coming out of the Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana programme, the UDAY reform that was introduced in consultation with the states, you will all be delighted to know that the loss in the last year, which just ended in March, 2017, reduced from 15,000 which she had inherited to 5,200 crores last year.

In barely 3 years, with very little to really…….. this government through its relentless efforts has been able to bring the loss down to 1/3rd and their target is that by next year this DISCOM will be able to profit. And, I tell you it will be a textbook case for how a business …… how you can first mess up a DISCOM in 5 years and how one can because of vision, because of integrity of purpose, a commitment to serve the people of a state, a commitment to do your job honestly, do your job efficiently, do your job well. One can convert a serious crisis that we inherited into an opportunity to do well for your people and bring down all those losses into a strong entity which can then continue to serve the people of the state for years and years….

And, mind you, while reducing the loss of the distribution company down to one-third in barely 3 years we have simultaneously also eliminated the loss of the generating company. The generating company last year was losing about 2,700 crore every year over and above 15,000 crore loss of the DISCOMs. Year March, 2017, that loss has been completely removed and it has been in profit last year.

That is truly power to the people, that is concern for the people and that is commitment to a cause. When the India Today Group invited me to this conclave and wanted to discuss the different initiatives that are happening in different states, I almost readily agreed on the request. Of course, Mr Raj Chengappa is such a dear friend and in any case he cannot refuse him any request. And on top of that, if you …….. to pursue the case then there is no way ….. can refuse.

But, the truly inspirational reason why I came here today was that I wanted to share with you the story of the turnaround of a state which almost the entire country had given up on, nobody wanted to touch the power story of Rajasthan, given that it was in such a shattered state of stress. You had villages almost getting no power, getting power for a few hours in a day, cities had to face frequent power outages, power cuts. The yearning need of the people was to get continuous power, to get quality power and to keep the power cost low and i don’t think in the last 3 years, the Rajasthan government has had to really increase the tariffs significantly, this has not come on the back  of passing on the inefficiency to the people. Of course, certainly the state government has had to take on the significant burden of the past legacy on to the books of the state government. And, that in fact is the beauty of the Indian system of government where continuity is building, even though a good government can say, look, i was not the cause of this Rs 60,000 crore loss and due to which …….. is causing huge loss here or there. We can’t get away by blaming it on the past. We have to inherit it and we have to resolve it.

You are all aware that the whole nation for the last 68 years until 2014 had never imagined that power can ever be power surplus that India can ever be surplus in coal. Entire mindset used to one of shortages, entire policies were written assuming that this country is perpetually going to have a power shortage. In fact, we often talk of scams. There is this coal gate scam of Rs 1,86,000 crores, there is the telecom scam of Rs 1,76,000 crores, the figures are so …… that you can’t even total all the ……….. But ………….. and what is the scam because as leaders of the nation, we are also responsible to prepare the nation for good times in the future. After all, we cannot be a nation of leaders who have no vision, who have no ability to give more and ……………. Our nation has the world’s third  largest reserves of coal and i am saying this because this in a way is in continuation with what Mr Anil said.

After all, what is the wealth of a nation? A wealth of a nation is what is below the ground, in terms of its mineral resources. A wealth of a nation is what is probably on the coastline through your fisheries and the wealth that the ocean provides to you. The wealth of the nation is the people what they call the demographic dividend, the ability of this nation to have such a large working population putting their best skills to use and creating wealth for the future of India. But, if we become so helpless that despite having the world’s third largest reserves we assume we are always going to have coal shortages in this country and all of the 220 GW of thermal power plants that we have in India, you will be amazed to know that 83 GW out of that, almost 40% of our installed thermal power capacity is either fully or largely dependent on imported thermal coal. And plants have been designed only on the basis of imported coal.

So, even when i have surplus coal, i have 52 million tonnes of coal in the pitheads of all the coal mines in the country. But, i can’t give it these power plants because they are designed only for coal which is coming from Indonesia, Australia or other countries. Because, in my view, creating a liability for next 25 years to continue to import one lakh crores worth of coal. Here or there, it’s a scam to my mind worth 25 lakh crores that we have become dependent on that imported coal to feed our thermal power generation capacity, which could very easily have been made  on domestic coal knowing full well we have such coal reserves. If only somebody had the vision and the ability think big, plan big, and bring that coal out of the ground just as what Mr Aggarwal was saying.

In fact, every time i am doing an exploration project in the Mines Ministry, i often quote the example of Hindustan Zinc and say that look sold out this company because our world said that this had only values of raw material below the ground and it went for the pitheads. Fortunately, ………………………….. and as you rightly said we have Mr Aggarwal’s deeply rooted in India, ………… some person who is coming from abroad chose to live in London but i think his heart and soul will always be Indian. And any time i meet him when i hear him……….. i can see that his heart beats for India. But, why did his heart not beat in the earlier governments, with officials, in the establishment for so many years and why do we have to find that Hindustan Zinc has reserves which probably lasted the last 18 years but another 40 years later it reflects with the way the country has been run for so many decades. The fact that clean energy was estimated to have 6-7 years of you said of all reserves and is already talking of ……………………. To my mind, i think it’s already once doubled the output, so it will be 4 times the output what he really got, originally. It was 1 lakh probably barrels, it’s already 3 lakh, you are looking at doubling that.

So, it only means that what this country needed and which Prime Minister Modi, the centre, Vasundhra Raje ji in the state, together, are trying to bring in the work of government in the country, in the state, is vision and leadership. And if you look back at any of my debates before even I became a Minister, while we were in the Opposition, and often this question used to be raised that what’s going on with India, why is India not developing fast, why are we not doing better, why our public sector units doing well?

I have never criticized the officials of the system, I always said what India lacks is vision and leadership, not our ability to perform. And I am delighted that we have today a government in this state, we have today a leader in this state, we have a leader in the government of India Prime Minister Modi who has the confidence that we can change the way government works, we can change the destiny of India, we can make India a better place to live in. And, certainly, the people of India trust this leadership. Again and again, election after election, if somebody is supporting Prime Minister Modi with such larger and larger electoral verdicts, clearly, the people can see the man’s intention, they can see his vision. They can see he means well for the country. They can see ………. Done demonetization, it’s in a series of steps. It’s not one step in isolation. It’s a series of steps that started from the first development, continued until demonetization. And it has hurt the people badly, the people who are used to the informal economy, who are used to working in cash. Some of them may have cheated or gamed the system, but the system will catch up with them. Data mining is going on on all those deposits which came into the bank account.

But, if demonetization hadn’t happened and there wasn’t a move to move the people into formal economy, GST could not have been a success. And, if GST had not been introduced then the success of demonetization would have been only short lived. All these steps are a series, each one linked to the other like beads in a necklace. And, in  fact, in some places we often find a little bit of criticism that GST has caused us this problem, that problem. We have been assessing all these issues and we don’t run the government with blinkers, obviously. And, any one or two genuine cases also which over a period of time will get sorted out.

As i said in one of my interactions, Anilji, of course, runs a big company, but the chief of the Clarke Hotels here, i am sure he faces enough challenges on a day to day basis in one of his hotels in running his hotels. I am sure India Today Group doesn’t find it easy, all the…. i mean there must be issues that keep propping up, the management inputs that are properly quickly resolved. And, of course, if there are more problems then there was no need for a Raj Chengappa as Senior Editor, anybody else could have run the organisation or Arun Poorie would be out of the job.

Similarly, when you are transforming a nation of a billion people, you are trying to introduce an honest regime, you are trying to plug every possible way in which the informal economy can run. Obviously, there are going to be challenges, it’s not going to be schools …….. But, then nation trusts that what Prime Minister is doing is for the good of the nation, the poor man who is the focus of every action of our government, the last man at the bottom of the pyramid, as Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay said and whose birth centenary we are celebrating, ‘the nation’s resources should be focused on improving the life of the poorest of the poor first.

That is this government’s central focus and all we are planning to do is move into the entire economy into the formal economy, so that everybody pays their taxes honestly. Competition is on quality of service, quality of goods, not on somebody’s ability to cheat on taxes. And, that ladies and gentlemen, is the central focus of the government of India, the government of Rajasthan, move into a new era which will create accommodation not for one or two or five years of prosperity, but for decades of prosperity, which will take every Indian citizen out of the problems that we are facing – poverty, despair, lack of affordable housing, lack of electricity. And, that ladies and gentlemen is our dream, our vision. 15th August, 2022, when India celebrates 75 years of independence, we would like to see a nation where every citizen has a good ….., every citizen has 24 hours electricity – reliable, affordable, affordable electricity, clean energy. Every citizen has a toilet in his home, a basic thing like a toilet in his home, has good road to integrate with rest of the country, has quality education for his children and equal opportunity for his children, as this gentleman just now asked Mr…… to have a quality education and compete with our children, has proper healthcare facility, is using, leveraging technology, be it space technology, be it telemedicine, so that everybody’s parents can have quality healthcare for a better quality of life.

That ladies and gentlemen is the vision on which we are working. Vasundhra Rajeji is an integral part of this grand vision that Prime Minister Modi is implementing across the country. Wonderful work is happening in this state, we are proud of our government in this state. And I have no doubt in my mind, the pace at which this government is working to take water to – by the way, city..  she has already drawn up the whole plan how she plans to take water to every region of Rajasthan, even the remotest desert areas of Rajasthan, on the paper which is there in the front of you over there.

And, the kind of passion with which she is working to take electricity to every home in the state, even in the remotest Dhanis or hamlets in the state. How she is working – today we were fighting we did not …. our 1000 MW of solar parks, we want to expand that but the central government is not qualifying its……………….. Madam, i have already approved that and i am going to get back to tell you change the procedure.

That’s the sensitivity which we had, clean environment, a better environment for the future generation, for all of you, so that as Mahatma Gandhi said, we are only trustees who have inherited the earth or the globe to leave behind a better future for the children of tomorrow.  That ladies and gentlemen is our job, which we are trying to do honestly, which we are trying to do with whole sincerity. And, i am going to seek your blessings, your trust, so that we can do our job bigger, bolder and better in the future.

Thank you

Panelist: Thank you very much. That was really inspiring and it’s always a delight to hear you speak, since you speak so passionately. And, like what she said about …… it’s very obvious that your heart also beats for India. Thank you. I just want to ask you a quick check on the UDAY scheme. West Bengal was reticent to come out, so what are you doing to convince them?

A: I don’t have to convince them, because it’s a voluntary scheme. If voluntarily every state in the country except West Bengal has come on, i think people have to decide whether the scheme is good or whether the Chief Minister of West Bengal is bad. By the way, she had agreed to come out and meet personally, or sadly politics took over good economics. And she decided not to come. I have not persuaded any government. Mr Akhilesh Yadav was the Chief Minister of UP when i introduced UDAY, he has written a letter to me, it’s there in my website, in which he said that we are delighted that you have introduced UDAY and which is great for my state. And on the phone when i first introduced it, he called me up to say, Piyushji aapne yeh scheme banayi hai, mujhe poora vishvas hai ki yeh mere Pradesh ke hit mein hoga, meri janta ke hit mein hoga. And they were ready to stand on, i think after Rajasthan signed, next state was Uttar Pradesh. We had just lost the Bihar election in November, one and half year ago, within 30 days of that Nitish Kumarji signed UDAY.

So, i don’t think we have ever – today, we were reviewing Rajasthan, Pushpendra Singhji, the honourable Power Minister of Rajasthan was asking me, how much money did you give to Uttar Pradesh? I said, i gave the amount to Uttar Pradesh – 11,000 crores, but i gave it when Akhilesh Yadav was the Chief Minister, not when our government came. And the smallest amount i gave to Maharashtra and Gujarat from where the Power Minister and the Prime Minister come, because we were fair. Whatever work this government does, we have never discriminated between who runs the state, who doesn’t run the state. As Prime Minister Modi said after the resounding victory in UP, on the 11th exactly, on 12th March if you recall, the Prime Minister said, elections are over, this government of the BJP will  now work for 22 crore people in Uttar Pradesh, without discrimination at all. Election you can keep funding, post-election it’s one government.

Panelist: I think GST, there is a sense that renewable and ….. sectors got end of it,… you have higher taxes on hybrid cars, you have higher taxes on ……..?

A: Absolute wrong…. And, in fact, most of the things about GST that are often spoken about are based on uneducated information. In fact, i am coming to your channel on Monday for the GST session when it’s in …… anybody can come and ask anything they like. We have other Ministers talking to the audience all over the place. I am moving all over the country. I had already got two sessions in Vishakhapatnam and Delhi in …….. First of all, renewable sector has got one of the best things, solar power plants have been …. taxed only 5% GST. The hybrid cars, i requested the honourable Finance Minister to keep it higher. I have got two hybrid cars at 13 lakhs or something, i got Rs 80,000 concession, why the hell should i get an Rs 80,000 concession? You have got to pay 30 lakhs, you can pay 31 lakhs, point 1.

Point 2, a hybrid is still a petrol driven car, it just reduces the consumption a little bit. India is aiming big. We are not aiming for intermediate solutions. So, our effort is to introduce electric vehicles by 2030 in this country and that’s the right solution that really what is going to bring … fossil fuel, imported fuel, make India self-reliant and reduce the pollution levels. So, why should i encourage intermediate solutions till we do that. We will never be able to develop indigenous technology for electric vehicles, so we are aiming big. And i am happy to share with you, Rajasthan found the ……even if you use very small portion of Rajasthan, possibly 1 or 2%, 5% of the land area of Rajasthan, we can generate enough solar energy to power all the electric vehicles in India which will be there in 2030. So this is going to be a huge future for Rajasthan, our plan for electric vehicles.

So, today Cairn Energy supplies oil. In the future solar power of Rajasthan is going to run the cars of the entire country.

Thank you.


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