Modi proposes model solar cities, bio-ethanol refineries
The move assumes importance in the wake of rise in prices of fuels amid slowing growth in Asia’s third largest economy, which has witnessed job losses after scrapping of Rs 15.44 lakh crore of high denomination notes.business Updated: Jun 05, 2017 10:34 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the Union ministries on Tuesday to speed up infrastructure projects, including those in the renewable energy sector, to attain faster economic growth and generate jobs.
The focus assumes significance as fuel prices have shot up and Asia’s third-largest economy has recorded a slowdown with layoffs in various sectors after the government scrapped two high-value banknotes last November in a demonetisation drive to check illegal cash and corruption.
The government’s stats office, CSO, estimated economic growth to slide from 7.9% in 2015-16 to 7.1% in 2016-17. Analysts, however, predict a rebound as new cash inflow will revive demand and spur economic activity.
At his periodic review meeting, Modi proposed setting up of model cities, where power requirements are fulfilled solely by solar energy. He stressed the need to manufacture solar equipment to generate employment and derive maximum benefit from renewable energy.
Solar and wind tariffs have achieved grid parity, with rates well below Rs 4.0 per kilowatt-hour.
“A similar effort can be made to make certain localities kerosene-free,” the PMO quoted Modi as saying at the meeting with top officials from NITI Aayog, the government’s think-tank, and all infrastructure ministries.
The Prime Minister called for more emphasis to farm-based ethanol blending to check the country’s dependency on fossil fuel, and evolve mechanisms to help farmers benefit from the process that uses agricultural residues.
He said projects to build second-generation, bio-ethanol refineries should be expedited.
During a presentation, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant highlighted the progress in several sectors, including generation of renewable energy, affordable and rural housing.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has benefited almost 11 million households below the poverty line (BPL). The contribution of natural gas to the primary energy mix has risen and 81 urban centres are covered under the gas distribution network.
The rural electrification programme is proceeding swiftly, with more than 13,000 of 18,452 targeted villages getting electricity. The project is expected to be completed within its 1,000-day deadline.
Over 2.2 million BPL households got electricity in 2016-17, and more than 40 million LED bulbs were distributed during that period.
The inter-regional transmission capacity has significantly enhanced, with 41 gigawatts transmission capacity being added from May 2014 to April 2017.
The total renewable generation capacity has crossed 57 gigawatts, with an increase of 24.5% being registered in the past fiscal. The capacity addition in solar energy was the highest ever at 81% in the 2016-2017 financial year.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana, progress has been achieved in rural areas. IT and space-based applications are being extensively used to monitor progress of the scheme. More than 3.2 million houses have been built during the 2016-17 fiscal.
The Prime Minister enquired about training imparted to masons, who were involved in the rural household scheme.
Seeking a consolidated approach to various schemes, such as electrification, IT networks and housing, he called for a focused approach on the 100 worst performing districts in each case.
He said future reviews should focus on problems at the district-level, so that the progress of poorly performing districts can be monitored in a better way.