India File

‘There is transparency in the system’

Richa Mishra Debabrata Das | Updated on January 20, 2018

PIYUSH GOYAL, Power Minister

When it comes to the ambitious rural electrification programme, Piyush Goyal can’t afford to make any mistakes. Not only is the Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy being scrutinised by aam adami, but also the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.  “I do know that if I slip anytime, I will get a call,” says Goyal, as he talks about the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana. Excerpts:

In the scheme, the Centre is just setting up infrastructure in the villages. It is then up to the States. So the success of the programme lies with the States, doesn’t it?

Even taking electricity to that point is through nudging and prodding the States. Yes, the work is carried out by them. Agree, Power Ministry is more of a policy making body, and supports the States. But to change the way things are going, we have brought in much greater degree of monitoring and the States are also getting conscious; they have to be accountable to the people.

 Under this programme, when is a village called electrified? How different is your definition of electrification as compared to the previous government's?

As of now the definition continues to be what it was earlier. The earlier scheme for rural electrification - Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) has been subsumed in the new scheme. The number of households electrified should be at least 10 per cent of the total number.

In the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), we also want to take electricity to every small hamlet that are located on the outskirts of villages. In the third stage, we want to take electricity to every home.  Earlier, the focus was only on BPL homes. Now we are finding ways, and if necessary fund states through a loan, to provide electricity connections to all the APL homes. This we want to do so that there is 100 per cent universal electrification.

Since the basic definition remains the same, what was keeping your predecessor regime from doing it?

I think the biggest challenge was that a decisive leadership required to implement bold measures, aggressive targets was missing in the last 10 years. Aggressive targets have been set for us by the Prime Minister. Also with the transparency in the system, we get much bigger outcomes for every rupee that we spend.

How will you monitor once projects are handed over to State distribution utilities? Finance is another issue.

Yes, States are the key players here. As far as funding is concerned we are giving 60 per cent of the funding initially to the normal states and 85 per cent to the other states. Then additional 15 per cent more will be given when the States meet certain milestones. So effectively, 75 per cent of the money is going from the Centre. Further, 15 per cent we give as a loan from our central bodies. So, only 10 per cent of the funds are required from the States.

It is a challenge undoubtedly to monitor once REC hands over the projects. This is where Gram Vidyut Abhiyantas will help.

Published on May 23, 2016

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