Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal’s confident smile at the ‘Budget Verdict’ show at the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi on Thursday evening underscored the aphorism that “Nothing succeeds like success”.
And, why not? Goyal, who holds an independent charge as MoS for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines, reminded the august gathering at the post-Budget panel discussion organised by CNBC-TV18-Mint with pride that the Narendra Modi government had been successful in realising the dream of ‘power-surplus’ India.
The Load Generation and Balance Report (LGBR) 2016-17 of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), which functions under the power ministry had mentioned in 2016 that ‘India is likely to experience the energy surplus of 1.1 percent in 2016-17’.
“Today, India is a surplus power nation, unlike in the past. India is open for business and ball is in your court. India is the largest market and now it’s the industry, investors and entrepreneurs, who have to take the call. Indian entrepreneurs have to move fast,” appealed Goyal to India Inc.
Despite being power-surplus, the thermal power plants in India have witnessed low power load factor (PLF).
“India has lots of thermal power projects, like the ones in various sectors. Many of them are either stressed or stranded for years due to various problems. No new investments were coming our way. We identified this issue and during the first two years of our government… The PLFs of all operational old plants have gone up significantly, many new projects were set up even without PPA (power purchase agreement) and therefore they are facing stresses. But, I’m happy that they have got commissioned,” he said, while speaking on private investment.
Comparing the situation in 2014 and today, Goyal said that in 2014, the government’s job was to repair a broken economy and while doing so it also had to plan a for a long term sustainable development.
“The nation today is power surplus, coal surplus. There is a big change in the situation We had two options before us — one either to ask banks to do a cover-up operation and let the situation deteriorate by restructuring loans and the second, to take the bull by its horns,” he said.
In the process, the government opted for the second and asked the banks to clean up their balance-sheets, take the hilt where projects were beyond repair, accept liability wherever there was any snag, support cases where there was possibility of revival.
“All the banks have benefitted from this operation. It might seem stressed today, but that stress is worth taking today than three years later, when balance sheets would have got more stressed. I wish this kind of decision was taken five years ago. Last two years have been a difficult period for the industry as coal capacity was unplanned followed by power shortage. But, today, we have improved the situation.”
Without naming the Congress-led UPA government, Goyal remarked, “Now the same people who created the mess are advising us on how to run the economy better.”
On last mile connectivity and supply of power to remote villages, he said, “Power is not the problem. Last mile connectivity is a state subject. Except one state, all have signed an agreement for 24×7 power supply. I want power sector to be self-sufficient and not depend fully on government aid.”
Goyal’s roadmap to double agricultural income
– Keep inflation down.
– Provide low cost finance.
– Create water ponds.
– Robust insurance system—100% cover to farmers.
Goyal’s take on alternative fuel technology for auto industry
“We feel the country ultimately has to move to electric technology and electric vehicles. It’s good for environment as well. The issues related to battery and chargers have to be settled. Today, I have written to all chief ministers to have energy efficient building codes in place at the earliest,” he mentioned.
Responding to CNBC-TV18 managing editor and session’s moderator, Shereen Bhan’s final take, Goyal added, “This government is open to ideas, rather than imposing its thinking on others. One needs to know that there is no possibility of corruption in Modi government.”