North India is facing power supply issues. Even after BJP has come to power, power woes have not seen any end...
I took charge on May 27, and completed a month on Thursday. This power supply problem has not been created in three days, but in the past 15 years. The transmission and distribution infrastructure has not kept pace with the population growth. Hardly any steps were taken in the past to combat issues such as last-mile connectivity and power theft.
You become power minister and Uttar Pradesh faced power cuts, mainly in those areas where BJP had won, even in PM's constituency Varanasi...
The situation was such that there was some problem with their generating plant, not because of coal supply issues. UP was buying 377 mw power from Jhajjar power plant in summer, but the day Lok Sabha results came out on May 16, they stopped buying power from there. And when people asked them why power supply problem has occurred, they told people to ask those people for whom they voted. This is unfortunate.
In how many days will you fulfill the dreams of 24x7 power about with Narendra Modi has talked about in 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 mandate that people have given us. Now, we have approved projects related to power transmission infrastructure worth Rs 12,500 crore, bidding and tendering process will be over soon.
Power theft is a huge issue in the country…
This is indeed a huge problem, in many areas. No government other than Narendra Modi's had the political will to act on this issue. Modi filed around one lakh FIRs in Gujarat with regards to power theft and faced the reaction, stopped power theft, and then, won elections. Today, the people want that the government should show such political resolve.
Some parties talk of giving freebies, free power, free water…
BJP believes that if the price is fair and affordable, then people do not have any issue.
Around the country, 40 gas-based power plants are affected due to non-supply of gas, do you feel that the functioning of power plants will be affected if the gas prices are increased.
I am not connected with the gas issue and a different ministry is looking into it. Once they arrive at a decision, I can talk about it. Whatever decision the government will take will be in the people's and nation's interest. Gas plants have an important role, like in spinning reserves and for grid stability when peak load demand fluctuates.
What is your message to power and distribution companies?
I want to tell power companies, investors and people that we are all in it together. The mining companies should give good quality coal, in good quantity and right price. Generating companies should increase their efficiency, like 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, coal will be supplied to reduce power cost. Consumer theft has to be stopped, and consumers should pay bills on time. If we all work together, then investors get confidence that power sector is being sorted out.
The previous government claimed that they continued with NDA's coal policy. Now that you are in power, will you get transparency in coal block allocation?
What happened in the past is unfortunate. I have given my views on this issue many times, this is a lesson that in the coming days, people will not tolerate corruption of any kind. It 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, e-bidding.
Will your government take action against people accused in coal scam?
In case of any scam, Modi's government will take action, you already saw that in case of Swiss bank accounts, our finance minister has already written a letter.
There are allegations against many companies regarding selling coal from coal captive plant?
In the coming days, in any coal allocation, the end use will be specified. Also, the end-tariff regulation will be specified.
Will action be taken against companies which sell it in open market?
If anybody violates the law, action will be taken.