When his counterparts in other ministries were busy settling down at their own pace, Piyush Goyal had what one could call a baptism by power cuts. Within 10 days of being sworn in, he got stuck resolving a major power crisis that hit the capital and northern India, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity for 8-10 hours a day amid a heat wave.
Frequent power cuts across Delhi and nearby states underlined the tough challenge that Goyal—the new minister of power, coal and renewable energy — faced in keeping the lights on, immediately after the BJP government assumed power on promises to boost the economy and providing basic services of electricity and water to the billion plus people in India who voted to make Narendra Modi the Prime Minister.
A recent dust storm in the capital had badly damaged several power lines and transmission networks, causing a major strain on the existing energy infrastructure. Goyal’s action cut the repair time back from the usual two months.
To add to the power shortages in Delhi, coal shortages at thermal power stations raised chances of the crisis worsening across the nation.
For the Modi government, with its promise of no-nonsense government, the slate was not clean but expectations were high.
Goyal did what he could under the circumstances. He called emergency meetings with Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung in the absence of a chief minister, getting down to address the vexed puzzle involving private distributors, a shared grid and public administrators.
“The minister drew flak from all quarters including political parties for the power crisis in Delhi that is not his responsibility but that of the Lt Governor. We told him that the onus for this lies with state but he got into action and wanted to set the mess right,” a senior official in power ministry told HT.
BJP sources say that Goyal, known for his brusque, focused style, had been picked for his job because he was one of the most trusted to handle the challenging portfolio. He has been given both power and renewable energy in a combined mandate.