Power minister for cross-subsidisation of tariff

New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday pitched for low-cost power for Indian farmers through cross-subsidisation of power tariff, whereby industrial consumers pay higher costs towards lower rates for other categories.

“Indian farmer deserves to get low-cost power. We support cross-subsidisation by larger commercial or industrial establishments for other consumers,” Goyal said at a press conference here to mark two years of the National Democratic Alliance government.

He said the government plans to launch a scheme wherein consumers can pay for the new electricity connection in monthly instalments over a five-year period and will be able to avail the service on demand.

“We are thinking of launching a campaign to make it compulsory to provide electricity connections to all. We want to provide this facility to everyone; if he or she asks for electricity connection, it must be provided,” Goyal said.

“Poor people get electricity connections free of cost. But for those who are above the poverty line, the amount paid for new connections will be charged through equated monthly instalments in five years. We are working on such a scheme and will soon launch it,” he added.

Speaking of his ministry’s achievements since the Modi government came to power in May 2014, Goyal said the current situation of “surplus power and surplus coal is a very good state in which to be in”.

“India has become power surplus from chronic power shortage. There has been a record capacity addition of 20 percent of current conventional power capacity and solar power capacity addition of 157 percent in the last two years,” he said.

“Today, not a single power plant faces shortage of coal as opposed to the impending power crisis in 2014 when two third of major power plants had critical coal stocks of less than seven days,” he added.

On the rural electrification programme, the union minister said the target of electrifying 18,452 villages will be achieved a year ahead of the target deadline of May 1, 2018.

“We will electrify all 18,452 villages by May 1, 2017, the minister said.

“There may be a few aberrations, that may be from very dense forest, left wing extremism-affected areas or possibly a consumer who does not want power or one who does not apply for power,” he added.

Earlier, the minister’s press conference — otherwise meant to be an opportunity to highlight the power ministry’s “achievements” in the last two years — was short-circuited by repeated outages.

Goyal sought to blame the power breakdowns on “slowing down of works” put in place in 2014 to ensure that outages were prevented in the national capital.

“The speed of works for implementing our plans in Delhi — put in place when we (National Democratic Alliance) formed the government at the Centre in 2014 — have slowed down over the last year,” Goyal said.

He told reporters that he had met Delhi government officials regarding the matter only last week.

Soon after the press conference held at the National Media Centre here, Press Information Bureau Director General Frank Noronha ordered an inquiry into the repeated outages.

The power ministry said in a release later that the outages happened since “soon after the power failure, the air circuit breaker of the supply tripped due to a surge in requirement for power”.

–IANS

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