Electricity, a 20th century invention, has become a basic necessity for the complete realisation of human potential. Yet, for years, it remained an elusive dream for many. In a human context, an electricity connection powers a life of a common person at many levels. It illuminates the home where children can study in the evening avoiding the unhealthy kerosene lamp. Farms can be irrigated using electric pumps. People are able to consume mass media which in turn enables them to be part of the information era. People who were earlier forced to wind up all of their activities very early in the evening due to the absence of electricity can extend the duration of their economic activities once they get power. The household work burden also gets reduced with the coming of electronic appliances.
A Story of Transformation
There has been a slew of reform measures taken in the last four years in various sectors like coal, renewable energy, capacity building in transmission, energy saving etc. These reforms have played a pivotal role in transforming the power sector. Some of the major achievements in the power sector can be listed as below:
- 100% electrification of villages
- 16% of the targeted 4 crore households without electricity have been electrified since the launch of Saubhagya Yojana in September, 2017.
- E- auction & allocation of 84 coal blocks. Potential revenue for coal states in lifetime stands at Rs 3.94 lakh crore.
- India’s rank increased from 99 in 2015 to 26 in 2017 in World Bank’s Ease of Getting Electricity Index.
- From 5.3 lakh MVA in March 2014 to 8.04 lakh MVA in December 2017, transformation capacity increased to 51.7%.
- 65 GW addition in conventional power capacity, highest ever for a period of 4 years.
- Under UJALA, over 30 crore LED bulbs distributed, 39,072 million kWh energy saved per year, Rs 15,000 crore saved per year on power bills.
- 62 GW renewable power installed till November 2017, of which 27 GW installed since May 2014.
Power to People: Success Story of Rural Electrification
On April 28, India passed a historic milestone of achieving 100 percent rural electrification when a Manipur village Leisang connected to the national electricity grid. 18,452 villages that were in darkness, even after decades of Independence, painted a disturbing image. On August 15, 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced from the Red Fort that “the Government had resolved to connect with electricity, all the 18,452 villages which still remain without power, within the next 1000 days.” The task was met as promised.
It should be noted that providing electricity to these 18,452 villages was not akin to the previous rural electrification efforts because these villages were situated in rough terrains, especially in hilly areas. Perhaps, this is the reason why ‘Rajiv Gandhi Graminvidyutikarana Yojana’ which was launched back in 2005 with an aim to provide electricity to all villages failed to reach these villages despite the fact that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in her capacity as a chairperson of National Advisory Council, had committed herself to on behalf of the government to provide electricity to all the households by the year 2009.
It is evident that as soon as the rural electrification entered into a difficult phase with remote villages and tough terrain, the number of villages electrified per year dropped drastically under the previous government. In 2011-12 as many as 7934 villages were electrified. This fell dramatically to 2587 in 2012-13 and to 1197 in 2013-14. This number shot up to 8457 villages in 2014-15 under the then newly constituted Modi government.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) which has achieved 100 percent rural electrification has set other goals as well, including the following:
- Feeder separation to ensure sufficient power to farmers and regular supply to other consumers.
- Improvement of Sub-transmission and distribution network to improve the quality and reliability of the supply.
- Metering to reduce the losses.
The above measures will have a positive impact on the agriculture sector, small & medium enterprises, rural health services, education and banking and so on.
Mission Continues with SAUBHAGYA
Now, with the infrastructure in place, government has committed to cross another milestone of electrifying all the households, that too in timebound manner. Having seen its previous record of achieving set targets in the power sector, this too seems plausible.
Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ was launched on September 25, 2017. It aims to ensure electrification of all willing households in rural as well as urban areas and the deadline for achieving the same has been set on December 31, 2018. Like in the case of previous rural electrification process, the administration has made the real time data available in the Saubhagya dashboard where anyone can check its progress. As per the dashboard:
- As on October 11, 2017 there were 3,80,04,964 households left for electrification
- As on May 30, 2018, the number of households electrified stood at 64,41,080 (16.95%)
The beneficiaries for free electricity connections are identified using Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 data. However, un-electrified households not covered under the SECC data are also provided electricity connections with a payment of Rs 500 which shall be recovered by DISCOMs in 10 instalments through electricity bills.
Green Energy Path
While achieving transformation in the power sector, it is evident that the Modi government has put significant focus on evolving a more sustainable model. Its thrust on solar and other renewable energy sources is well-known. At this point, it is pertinent to recall the LED revolution that took place through the scheme UJALA.
India’s “Let there be (LED) light” moment began with the Prime Minister’s Office itself. The Prime Minister launched this ambitious energy efficiency scheme, which happens to be the world’s largest and most extensive LED distribution programme, on January 5, 2015, with the simple act of changing a light bulb to LED in the South Block.
Since then over 30 crore LED bulbs have been distributed, resulting in 39,072 million kWh energy being saved per year and over Rs 15,000 crore cost saving per year for people in the form of reduced power bills.
Before UJALA, the market price for LED bulbs ranged from Rs 350 to Rs 450, approximately. Once the scheme was launched, EESL, a public energy service company procured and distributed the LED bulbs in bulk, bringing down the price to around Rs 70. Thus, the government made it economically prudent for the people to buy LED bulbs.
Solar & Wind Power
India is ranked 4th and 6th globally in Wind and Solar Power installed capacity respectively. In the four years of Modi government, these sectors have witnessed many milestones, such as:
- 62 GW renewable power installed till November 2017, of which 27 GW installed since May 2014
- Biggest ever solar power capacity addition of 5525.98 MW in 2017-18
- Out of 1.42 lakh solar pumps installed in the country till November 2017, 1.31 lakh were installed during the first three and half years of this government.
- Largest ever wind power capacity addition of 5502.39 MW in 2016-17 exceeding target by 38%.
- The lowest tariff discovered for solar power at Bhadala solar park in Rajasthan in May 2017, and for wind, in the tariff-based capacity auction of Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd, in December 2017 was Rs 2.44/KWh and Rs 2.43/KWh respectively.
With India leading the world in solar energy through the historic International Solar Alliance and redesigning the goal set by National Solar Mission 2010, the government has set off on a path towards sustainable energy security. National Solar Mission 2010 has set the target of building capacity for 20 GW grid-connected solar power by 2022. In June 2015, the Union Cabinet made an ambitious decision to increase the target to 100 GW by 2022.
Reforms in Coal
In the power sector, thermal power constitutes a major portion. Coal fuelled thermal plants constitute 57% in the total energy share. Therefore, the performance of coal sector has a big impact on the health of power sector. In the four years of Modi government great emphasis has been given to coal reforms. Some of the milestones can be listed here:
- In 2014, two-thirds of major power plants had critical coal stocks of less than 7 days. Today, there is no shortage of coal.
- E- auction & allocation of erstwhile-scam ridden 84 coal blocks was done in a transparent manner. Potential revenue for coal states in lifetime stands at Rs 3.94 lakh crore
- Domestic coal production has increased. Highest ever coal production increase of 9.2 crores tonnes was seen in the period 2014-17.
- Coal import also declined, registering huge savings for the exchequer. Coal imports have fallen from 217.78 MTe in 2014-15 to 203.95 MTe in 2015-16. During April-October, 2017-18, 86 MTe of coal was imported as compared to 121.14 MTe in the corresponding period of 2016-17 showing a decline of 1.9%.
- Coal quality also improved. Now, 100% crushed coal is used for power plants. In 2016-17, 0.63 kgs of coal was used to produce 1 unit of electricity as compared to 0.69 kgs in 2013-14. It has made electricity cheaper.
- Rs 3,000 crore potential savings has been achieved through coal linkage rationalization.
In these four years it is evident that Modi government has made the fundamental elements of the power sector stronger through coal sector reforms, focussing on renewable energy, energy saving initiatives like UJALA etc. At the same time, it is also making sure that the benefit of all these should be passed onto common man through schemes like DDUGJY and Saubhagya. All this while, transparency has been evident in all these steps through digital instruments like Vidyut Pravah (power availability), Tarang- (upcoming projects), DEEP- Discovery of Efficient Electric Price, UJALA dashboard (LED bulbs/fans distribution data), Saubhagya dashboard (household electrification).
In the four years of the Modi government, the intention of empowering the person at the last mile seems to be the guiding principle. Thus, here one can see the comprehensive model of empowering lives of common people through the power sector.