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For power sector, ‘transmission is essential issue’

Richa Mishra / Debabrata Das
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PIYUSH GOYAL, Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy
PIYUSH GOYAL, Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy

“Never realised what I am getting into,” said Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, who completed a month in office on Thursday. Goyal believes that if the transmission issue is resolved India can generate electricity for two-three years.

In an interview with Business Line Goyal shares the advantage of having the three energy ministries under one umbrella. Edited excerpts:

How are you dealing with the lack of transmission networks?

Transmission is the most essential issue. The country can live with two or three years of no additional capacity if a proper transmission system is in place. In fact, with the existing capacity we can double the output by improving efficiency and increasing supply, if we address this.

Coupled with the last-mile connectivity, particularly separate feeder lines for agriculture, this is the way forward. We are in the process of studying and creating a framework to take India into the next two decades with sufficient transmission capacity.

What steps are being taken to address fuel supply concerns?

The power sector is currently looking at more coal availability. Today, we are dealing with a situation where ministries working in silos have given coal linkages across the country based on availability and requirements, but never rationalised the process. I am trying to put in place a system to rationalise coal linkages to the nearest source, including imports.

We could import and use at the coast instead of transporting to the interiors. With this we will unlock the freight corridors and evacuate more coal. We will save thousands of crores of rupees on freight which can be passed on to the consumer or reduce distribution utility losses.

What is the way forward?

The country needs a better transmission and distribution network so that power can be evacuated from the excess supply areas to the starved areas. The power sector is facing uncertainty with court cases against coal blocks. I am hoping in July, when the court takes up the matter, there will be a resolution.

We are asking the Environment Ministry to allow coal mines (there are 150 to 200 mines) to operate. Even if they each produce 100,000 tonnes a year it becomes 20 million tonnes.

 On gas, the Government is yet to decide on a long-term policy. Once the decisions are out in the public domain we will address the problem.

In my opinion gas plants could be very effective in spinning reserves for the nation and used for peak demand and grid stability.

Industry feels that if you propose differential tariffs, generation from expensive fuel (imported coal and gas) will be viable. What is your take?

I cannot tweak any tariffs. It is a regulated sector and the States are responsible for it.

I am responsible for helping increase efficiency in the sector. We never committed a particular gas price or availability to them. They set up these plants as a business decision.

How successful have you been in bringing NTPC and Coal India to the same table on fuel supply agreements?

I come from the private sector and we used to debate on viewpoints but, at the end of the day, we worked for the goal of the organisation.

NTPC may want to highlight the issue of quality of coal, and I welcome that. Everyone is working towards satisfying their own customers. The Power Ministry wants to satisfy the demands of transmission, distribution, and generation, while the Coal Ministry will want to satisfy power plants.

You suggested getting a professional to run Coal India. What has been the response from the Department of Personnel and Training?

I am yet to get a response from the DoPT.

I am hopeful that they will allow us to expand the zone of consideration to get more qualified people to come in and strengthen the public sector.

In a couple of stakeholder interactions, I have appealed to those in good positions to sacrifice remunerations and look at this as public service.

Have you raised the issue of proposed anti-dumping duty on solar cells and panels with the Finance Ministry?

 We have already asked the Finance Ministry to review the anti-dumping duty on solar panels. India does not have sufficient capacity to satisfy the increasing requirement for our solar mission. The Government is committed to expanding renewable energy, particularly solar and wind energy.

 

(This article was published on June 26, 2014)
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Union Budget 2014-15 Highlights

  • Following are the highlights of the Union Budget 2014-15 presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament on July 10, 2014
  • Income-tax exemption limit raised by Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh and for senior citizens to Rs 3 lakh
  • Exemption limit for investment in financial instruments under 80C raised to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh.
  • Investment limit in PPF raised to Rs 1.5 lakh from Rs 1 lakh
  • Deduction limit on interest on loan for self-occupied house raised to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 1.5 lakh.
  • Committee to look into all fresh tax demands for indirect transfer of assets in wake of retrospective tax amendments of 2012
  • Fiscal deficit target retained at 4.1% of GDP for current fiscal and 3.6% in FY 16
  • Rs 150 crore allocated for increasing safety of women in large cities
  • LCD, LED TV become cheaper
  • Cigarettes, pan masala, tobacco, aerated drinks become costlier
  • 5 IIMs to be opened in HP, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Rajasthan
  • 5 more IITs in Jammu, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
  • 4 more AIIMS like institutions to come up in AP, West Bengal, Vidarbha in Maharashtra and Poorvanchal in UP
  • Govt proposes to launch Digital India’ programme to ensure broad band connectivity at village level
  • National Rural Internet and Technology Mission for services in villages and schools, training in IT skills proposed
  • Rs 100 cr scheme to support about 600 new and existing Community Radio Stations
  • Rs 100 cr for metro projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad
  • Govt expects Rs 9.77 lakh crore revenue crore from taxes
  • Govt’s plan expenditure pegged at Rs 5.75 lakh crore and non-Plan at Rs 12.19 lakh crore.
  • Rs 2,037 crore set aside for Integrated Ganga Conservation Mission called ‘Namami Gange’
  • Kisan Vikas Patra to be reintroduced, National Savings Certificate with insurance cover to be launched
  • FDI limit to be hiked to 49% pc in defence, insurance
  • Disinvestment target fixed at Rs 58,425 crore
  • Gross borrowings pegged at Rs 6 lakh crore
  • Contours of GST to be finalised this fiscal; Govt to look into DTC proposal.
  • ‘Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya New Teachers Training Programme’ launched with initial sum of Rs 500 crore
  • Govt provides Rs 500 crore for rehabilitation of displaced Kashmiri migrants
  • Set aside Rs 11,200 crore for PSU banks capitalisation
  • Govt in favour of consolidation of PSU banks
  • Govt considering giving greater autonomy to PSU banks while making them accountable
  • Rs 7,060 crore for setting up 100 Smart Cities
  • A project on the river Ganga called ‘Jal Marg Vikas’ for inland waterways between Allahabad and Haldia; Rs 4,200 crore set aside for the purpose.
  • Govt proposes Ultra Modern Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Technology
  • Expenditure management commission to be setup; will look into food and fertilizer subsides
  • Impasse in coal sector will be resolved; coal will be provided to power plants already commissioned or to be commissioned by March 2015
  • Long term capial gains tax for mutual funds doubled to 20%; lock-in period increased to 3 years
  • Rs 4,000 cr set aside to increase flow of cheaper credit for affordable housing to the urban poor/EWS/LIG segment.
  • EPFO to launch the ‘Uniform Account Number’ service to facilitate portability of Provident Fund accounts
  • Mandatory wage ceiling of subscription to EPS (Employee Pension Scheme) raised from Rs 6,500 to Rs 15,000
  • Minimum pension increased to Rs 1,000 per month
  • Union Budget 2014: List of products getting cheaper/ costlier

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today spared the common man from price hikes by keeping duties on commonly used day-to-day items unchanged but made it costlier for smokers and tobacco consumers with a steep increase in excise rate in tax proposals in Budget 2014—15.
  • Following is a list of what will be cheaper and costlier:
  • YOU WILL PAY LESS FOR
  • CRT television
  • LED/LCD TVs especially below 19 inch
  • Footwear priced between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per pair
  • Soaps
  • E—book readers
  • Desktop, laptops and tablets
  • RO based water purifiers
  • LED Lights, fixtures and lamps
  • Pre forms of precious and semi—precious stones
  • Sports Gloves
  • Branded petrol
  • Matchbox
  • Life micro insurance policies
  • HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostic kits
  • DDT insecticides
  • YOU WILL PAY MORE FOR
  • Cigarettes
  • Aerated drinks with sugar
  • Pan masala
  • Gutka and chewing tobacco
  • Jarda scented tobacco
  • Radio Taxi
  • Imported electronic products
  • Portable X—ray machines
  • Half cut/broken diamonds.

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