Union Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal said that the BJP government`s ultimate goal is to make transparent policy framework for the common man.
In an interview with Zee Business Deputy Editor Amish Devgan Piyush Goyal shares his views on power supply issues, coal allocation and much more.
You are known to be one among the “Navratnas” (nine jewels) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hence you have been given a crown of thorns--- put in charge of both ministries—power as well as coal.
Prime Minister considers all the 125 crore people of our country as his jewels. We are all party workers. I am humbled by the responsibility he bestowed upon me and want to serve with full responsibility and honesty.
Power crisis has not come to an end despite BJP forming the government at the centre. What is your take on that?
I had taken charge on 27th last month and I`ve completed one month today. The power supply crisis is not a three-day old problem. Since the last 15 years, the transmission and distribution infrastructure has not kept pace with the population growth, last mile connectivity and power thefts. The past government took hardly any steps to combat this.
Uttar Pradesh is facing severe power cuts, mainly in those areas where BJP had won including PM Modi`s constituency Varanasi. UP CM Akhilesh Yadav said that there were coal supply issues.
There was some problem with the generating plant and not coal supply issues. Uttar Pradesh was buying 377 MW power from Jhajjar power plant during summers, but the day Lok Sabha results came out (16th May), UP stopped buying power from there. When people asked the UP government about power supply problem, they told the people to ask those for whom they had voted. This is very unfortunate.
But even some BJP people tried to politicize the issue
In the federal structure of the country, power is a concurrent subject. If I take any step unilaterally, the UP government will say that I am disturbing federal structure. Keeping these things in mind, I am ready to work with every state in the country.
So will you look at issues of Gujarat, Madya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the same manner?
Certainly, I have looked at issues of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana in the same vein. I have same responsibility towards every state.
In how many days will you fulfil 24x7 power promises that Narendra Modi made during his campaign?
I think the situation is ripe for some low hanging fruits. We have started planning on some medium term policy issues. I have full confidence that we will provide 24x7 power to every house, business establishment in the five year term that people have given us. We have also approved projects related to power transmission infrastructure worth 12,500 crores, bidding and tendering process of which will be over soon.
Power theft is a huge issue in the country, for example only a handful of people pay power bills in Mulayam Singh`s family constituency Saifai
This is indeed a huge problem, in many areas. No government other than that of Narendra Modi had the political will to act on this issue. Modi filed around one lakh FIR’s in Gujarat with regard to power theft and was also able to stop it. Despite facing reactions he won elections. The people expect the government to show similar political resolve.
Some parties even talk of giving freebies, free power, free water.
See, BJP believes, if the price is fair and affordable, then people do not have an issue.
40 gas based power plants are affected due to no gas supply. Do you feel that the functioning of the power plants will be affected if the gas prices are increased?
I am not connected with the gas issue, a different ministry is looking into it and once they arrive at a decision I will be able to talk about it. The government will take decision keeping in mind the people and nation’s interest. Gas plants have an important role-- in spinning reserves and grid stability when peak load demand fluctuates.
What is your message to power companies, distribution companies?
The coal mining companies should give good quality and quantity of coal at a right price. Generating companies should increase their efficiency. I have taken a decision that power plant running for over 25 years will be given automatic approval to set up new and super critical plants and coal will be supplied to reduce power cost. Moreover, consumer theft has to be stopped and consumer should pay bills on time. If we all work together, the investors will also get confidence.
Coal scam is an important issue. Since you are in power now, how far will you go to ensure transparency in coal block allocation?
What happened in past was unfortunate. A lesson has been learnt that people will not tolerate corruption of any kind. Coal is a national resource and has to be put to use in nation’s interest, be it iron ore or coal, it could price discovery, auction or e bidding.
Will the BJP government take action on CAG`s 1.86 lakh power scam report? Will the government take action against people accused in the coal scam?
The Narendra Modi government will take action on all scams. You have also seen that the Finance Minister has already written a letter over Swiss bank accounts.
What about corruption instances in the previous regime?
This matter is subjudice now. We are waiting for the court orders; simultaneously, there are many issues before independent and autonomous agencies which are probing the matter.
In the rush to deliver, how will the government ensure that few corrupt people don’t accidentally benefit?
See, our government is a policy driven government. We will go into the depth of every issue and make a framework which makes transparent decisions for the common man.
There are allegations against many companies regarding selling coal from coal captive plant.
In the coming days, in any coal allocation, the end use and the end tariff regulation will be specified.
Will action be taken against any companies who sell it in open market?
Action will be taken against violation of law.
Many coal related files were lost during UPA tenure, did you get those?
My department has asked for a presentation on this issue.