Millennium Post

Use alloted funds for full household electrification by Dec: Centre to states

Shimla: Union Power Minister R K Singh on Tuesday asked all states to use allocated funds under various schemes, including IPDS and DDUGJY, to achieve the electrification target for all households by year-end.

"We are giving funds. But those allocated funds are not being used. We are not able to use money. If we don't use that (funds), we would not be able to reach any home (or electrify them)," Singh said.

He was addressing a conference of power and renewable energy ministers of states & UTs here.

He underlined how Rs 42,000 crore was sanctioned under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), but just Rs 9,000 crore has been spent by states and UTs.

Moreover, under Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), a total of Rs 75,000 crore was sanctioned.

About the household electrification scheme Saubhagya, he said: "We have larger target ahead of us. How can we remove poverty without providing energy access to all. We will provide electricity to all households by December 31, 2018 and not by March 31, 2019 as envisaged earlier in the scheme."

Union minister R K Singh on Tuesday said power ministers of states and union territories are unanimous on achieving 100 per cent household electrification by December 2018 end and all targeted 3.6-crore families will have access to electricity under the Saubhagya scheme by year-end.

The union power minister also said that the meeting took stock of the progress of the Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and found the pace of work as satisfactory.

The IPDS is for strengthening power distribution networks in the town and covers all aspects like 33 kV lines, 11 kV lines, transformers, substations and meters. The minister said that 99 per cent of works under the IPDS have been awarded and progress has been made on them.

On household electrification target, Singh said, "When we started... last year, the total number of houses to be electrified were 3.6 crore, out of which we have already done 78 lakh. We are confident that we would able to do the remaining by December 31, 2018. The bulk of this is in larger states like Uttar Pradesh (1.2 crore)."

"...We have noted whatever difficulties there are and we have worked out ways and means of removing those difficulties. On this, all of us are clear that we will achieve our target by December 31," Singh told reporters here after a conference of ministers for power and renewable energy of states and union territories.

Regarding coal, Singh said the dry fuel will continue to be an issue for 2-3 years until the new mines open up because country's power demand and electricity reach is increasing which indicates good GDP or economic growth.

The minister also cited increase in per capita consumption with rising prosperity as one of reasons for rising power demand and coal shortage.

He said the centre has asked all states to import coal for meeting their demands and also take steps to augment supply to power plants by improving transport infrastructure like rail sidings. The minister also talked about liberalising power supplies by generation firms.

He said:"Power generation companies should be allowed to supply power from more efficient plants as tariff is low there. This will not require any change in the power purchase agreements. This will help bring down the cost of power."

On the unscheduled load shedding or power cuts, he said:"If there is load shedding we would impose penalty (from April 1, 2019). All of us have agreed on this earlier. Besides, if we don't plug in losses, reduce cross subsidy and transfer subsidy by direct benefit transfer, we cannot improve the financial health of discoms."

"Crores of people are deprived of electricity in the country. No country can be developed if there is load shedding and people live without electricity. It is a challenge," he added.

Under Saubhagya scheme, the government wants to energise over 40 million unelectrified households in the country. The Rs 16,320 crore scheme was launched in September last by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At present, over 7 million families have been provided electricity under the scheme.

On this occasion, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur sought 35 years long-term finance and speedy forest clearance for hydro power plants so that this renewable source of energy can be harnessed.

Talking to reporters, Delhi Power Minster Satyendra Jain said Delhi's Dadri, Badarpur and Jhajjar power plants are still reeling under coal shortage. He cautioned that unless coal supplies are improved, blackouts will continue in Delhi.

Asked about power ministry's initiative on ramping up coal supplies, Jain said:"Whenever I raise this issue, coal is supplied to power plants but again the situation comes to square one. They have to ensure at least 15 days of coal stocks at power plants which is a norm. "The Centre is following our foot steps as far as imposing penalty for unscheduled power cuts is concerned. We started this. We will soon implement this."

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