New Delhi: India’s power sector that was marred by continuous shortages and lack of quality and steady supplies to homes and factories has seen an unprecedented turnaround in the past four years.
Today the country boasts of a situation where the surplus power to the tune of 3000-4000 MW is available on a real-time basis at any time of the day to states and distribution companies and at affordable rates on the power exchange.
The ease of getting power at affordable rates comes on the back of focussed reforms unleashed by the Modi government over the past four years in the power sector.
Power Minister RK Singh said on Tuesday that comparison of 48 years of achievements of the other governments with 48 months of the current government is an “eye-opener”.
At a press conference on the completion of 4 years of the BJP government, he said: “We added 24,000 MW power generation capacity per year compared to 4,800 MW of earlier governments.” He said one lakh MW of power generation capacity and one lakh circuit km of inter-State transmission capacity has been added in the last 4 years.
Besides, 25,000 circuit Km transmission capacity was added per year compared to 3,400 km during the previous governments.
India’s total power capacity has increased by nearly one third (31% or an addition of 76,577 MW) from 243GW in March 2014 to 320 GW in Mar 2017 and the conventional or coal-based power capacity (which is the mainstay of the country’s overall power capacity) has increased by 26% (one fourth) from 214 GW in Mar 2014 to 270 GW in Mar 2017.
Energy shortages in 2014 were 42,428 million units (4.2%), which came down to 7,459 MU in 2017 (0.7%). Similarly, peak energy shortage in 2014 was 6,103 MW (4.5%) which came down to 2,608 MW (1.6%) in 2017
Significantly, India has turned around from a net importer of electricity to net exporter of electricity exporting around 5,798 Million Units to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar in 2017
Alongside, the transmission lines saw a 26% (One fourth) increase from 2,91,336 circuit kilometres (CKM) on March 14 to 3,66,634 on March 17. Then there has been an 87% increase in Alternate Transfer Capacity to South India from 3,450 MW in March 14 to 6,450 MW in March 17.
The growth in the sector was aided by simultaneous reforms on the rural front under the Modi government’s flagship program to provide electricity across all villages in the country.
Rural Electrification under Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) was a program announced in 2014 to connect un-electrified villages and transform the lives of rural people. The number of un-electrified villages in 2014 stood at 18,452.
The energy efficiency drive saw the distribution of nearly 23 crore LED bulbs by the Government along with 33 crore by the private companies, a move that resulted in savings of over Rs. 20,000 crore per year in electricity bills of consumers.
The largest contributor in India’s power reforms story is the government’s Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana or UDAY scheme for a turnaround of state distribution entities, that were considered as the weakest link in the entire chain of power sector reforms.
According to UDAY was launched by the government to develop sustainable power distribution companies. Within three years, we have a total of 27 States and UTs who have joined this scheme for a financial and operational turnaround.
The scheme has already yielded savings of nearly Rs 12,000 Crores to the state power distribution companies. Almost 85% UDAY Bonds have already been issued (Rs. 2.32 lakh cr out of total Rs. 2.72 lakh cr) leading to less rate of interest for DISCOMs.
The power minister said that all the 4 crore families would have power connection by December this year as against the March 2019 deadline under SAUBHAGYA scheme.
Earlier the minister said the government is trying to advance the deadline. He said discoms can buy power and the Centre has given them enough funds to strengthen their distribution and transmission system but they were not doing it because of losses.
“We simply doubled the capacity of renewable energy to 70GW in 4 years. Coal supplies increased 14% compared to last year,” Singh said.
The Saubhagya scheme funds the cost of last-mile connectivity to willing households. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Rs16,320 crore Saubhagya scheme last year to provide electricity connections to around 37 million families in rural and urban areas. Since the scheme’s launch in September 2017, five million households have got electricity connections.
According to the government data, 82% of Indian households have been electrified with seven states of Punjab, Gujarat, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal achieving 100% household electrification.