Powering India’s Growth
January 01, 2016
Comments 32 Comments

India has set off on an ambitious mission, a mission to provide electricity to 18,000 villages which are still in darkness after almost 7 decades of independence. PM Modi, in his Independence Day speech announced that all remaining villages shall be electrified within 1000 days. Rural Electrification is happening at a rapid pace, and is being done in an unbelievably transparent manner. Data on villages being electrified is available to the public through a mobile app and a web dashboard. While we can observe only electricity reaching the villages, it is also important to note that it is accompanied by dreams, aspirations & upward mobility in life for the people residing in villages.


It is difficult to forget that one of the largest power outage in our history happened in India in July 2012, leaving 62 crore people in darkness. Such darkness engulfed the nation, even as more than 24,000 MW of generation capacity lay idle due to lack of fuel like coal and gas. The entire sector reached a vicious cycle of inaction and policy paralysis with surplus generation capacity and massive unutilized investments at one end while large power cuts for the consumer on the other end.

When the NDA Government came to power last year, as many as 2/3 of coal based power plants (66 out of 100 coal plants tracked by Central Electricity Authority) were having critical coal stocks meaning less than 7 days of coal stock. Recovering from such a dire situation, today not a single power plant in the country is facing critical coal stock level.

While working hard to provide electricity to all, the Government has made clean energy a priority. It has set ambitious target to achieve 175 GW energy through renewable sources of energy, which include 100 GW of solar energy.

The new Government has focused on holistic and long term structural improvements in the sector, with a focus on achieving 24X7 power for all. The health of the power sector is borne out by the growth numbers. As per the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), electricity grew at 9% in October while Coal India Limited’s output rose 9% in Apr-November. In 2014-15, Coal India has increased coal production by more than the increase in the last four years combined. As a consequence, imports plummeted 49% in November vs last year. The growth of generation from coal based stations during 2014-15 was 12.12%, which is the highest ever.The crisis arising from cancellation of 214 coal blocks by Hon’ble Supreme Court was turned into an opportunity through transparent e-auctions, all of whose proceeds go to States especially the less developed States in East India.

A capacity addition of 22,566 MW was achieved in the last year which is the highest ever.  The peak shortage has reduced from 11.9% in 2008-09 to 3.2%, the lowest ever. Energy deficit during the current year has also reduced from 11.1% in 2008-09 to 2.3%, the lowest ever in the history of India.

On transmission front, there used to be a lot of constraints in supplying power from surplus states to deficit States.  Efforts were made to expeditiously synchronize the Southern Grid leading to ‘One Nation, One grid, One Frequency’. The Available transfer Capacity (ATC) during 2013-14 was only 3,450 MW which has been increased by 71% to 5,900 MW this month. 

In terms of fixing the weakest link in the power value chain, UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) has been rolled out to tackle past, present and potential future problems of the sector. UDAY was developed through a bottom up approach with extensive consultations at the highest levels of States (CM, Chief Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, DISCOM MDs etc.), Bankers, regulators etc. While addressing DISCOMs’ debt trap, UDAY delineates a path for sustainable operational improvement for DISCOMs. Government is also taking a number of initiatives to reduce cost of power. This is expected to result in all the DISCOMs becoming profitable by 2018-19. A budgetary hard-stop under UDAY provides a permanent resolution to DISCOM issues and combined with a collaborative approach, focus on improving efficiency and reducing cost of power, distinguish UDAY from previous attempts to reform the sector.

Areas like energy efficiency have seen dynamic growth with more than 75% reduction in LED bulb prices and distribution of more than 4 crore bulbs in less than one year. The target of replacing every single bulb with an LED bulb is on track with 77 crore bulbs to be distributed by 2018. The domestic and streetlight LED bulb programmes will help reduce the peak-load demand by nearly 22 GW, save 11,400crore units of electricity annually and bring about a reduction of 8.5 crore tons in carbon dioxide emissions every year. Setting up 22 GW capacity may have been hailed as a monumental achievement but it takes a different perspective to appreciate the avoidance of such investments while preserving the environment.

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Empowering our Farmers
September 26, 2016
Comments 46

Empowering our Farmers

The NDA Government under PM Narendra Modi has put unprecedented focus on agriculture. Numerous initiatives to improve productivity, safeguard farmers and augment their incomes and improve their overall well-being have been taken in the past two years. The steps taken by the Government are helping the farmers in a multitude of ways; from easy availability of fertilizers to improving irrigation facilities, from crop insurance scheme to easy access to credit, from scientific help to better price for their produce. PM Modi has also given a call to double farmers’ incomes by 2022 by multi-modal interventions.

India faced consecutive droughts in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Yet due to the resilience of Indian farmers, agricultural production remained stable and so did supply and inflation. Total foodgrain output in 2015-16 is estimated at 252.23 MT while Total foodgrain output in 2014-15 was 252.02 MT. Ministry of Agriculture has been renamed as Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare. This reflects a paradigm shift in the vision, which puts farmer first. Allocation for Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare has been increased substantially to Rs 35,984 crore.

The Govt realises that agriculture needs to more predictable, productive and profitable. This needs a multidimensional approach to solving farmers’ problem throughout the entire cycle and hence the Govt has come up with solutions to various issues faced by a farmer.

Pre- sowing:

  1. Soil health Card to help farmers make the right choice.

The Govt has distributed 1.84 Cr. soil health cards. The target is to cover all 14 crore farm holdings & provide soil health card to all farmers.

  1. Fertilisers

Long queues for fertilisers are history now. The Govt is ensuring easy availability of fertilisers for farmers. Prices of fertilisers have also been reduced significantly. 100% Neem coated urea is available in the country. This will improve fertilizer use efficiency by 10 to 15 percent and thereby reduce the consumption of urea fertilizer.

  1. Finance

Govt approved Rs 18,276 crore towards interest subvention of farmer loans. This will ensure that a farmer pays 4% interest for short term crop loans, 7% for post harvest loans, 7% in case of natural calamity, against the market rate of 9%.

During sowing:

  1. Irrigation Facilities

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana to be implemented in mission mode & 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation.  Implementation of 89 irrigation projects under AIBP, which were languishing for a long time, will be fast tracked. A dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund is being created in NABARD with an initial corpus of about 20,000 crore. 5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for production of organic manure will be taken up under MGNREGA.

  1. Support & Guidance

Scientific advice in the form of sms and calls have been sent to crores of farmers.

After sowing:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna

The PMFBY comes with the lowest ever premium rate for farmers. The PMFBY comes with One rate for One crop i.e. Kharif crops: 2 %, Rabi crops: 1.5 %, Horticulture Crops: 5 %. There is no capping on premium rates & no reduction in sum insured, thus ensuring full protection for farmers. Since independence, only around 20% farmers have been covered under insurance till now.  PMFBY targets 50%  coverage in next 3 years.

  1. e-NAM

Agriculture marketing is administered by the States as per their agri-marketing regulations, under which, the State is divided into several market areas. This fragmentation of markets hinders free flow of agri commodities from one market area to another and ends up escalating the prices for the consumers without commensurate benefit to the farmer. e-NAM addresses these challenges by creating a unified market through online trading platform, both, at State and National level and promotes uniformity, streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removes information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real time price discovery, based on actual demand and supply, promotes transparency in auction process, and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of his produce and online payment and availability of better quality produce and at more reasonable prices to the consumer.

Apart from the above measures, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to augment farmers’ income. Efforts are being made to increase in farm income through support to allied activities like fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy products. 850 crore for four dairying projects - ‘Pashudhan Sanjivani’, ‘Nakul Swasthya Patra’, ‘E-Pashudhan Haat’ and National Genomic Centre for indigenous breeds. Rashtriya Gokul Mission launched to conserve and develop indigenous cow breeds. Fish production has increased from 95.72 lakh tones during 2013-14 to 101.64 tonnes during 2014-15 The fish production for 2015-16 is estimated at 107.9 lakh tones. The ‘Saving-cum-Relief’ component provided to fishermen during fishing ban /lean period of three months has been increased to Rs. 1500 per month under Blue Revolution scheme.

There has also been a significant increase in relief provided by Government. For the years 2010-2015, a provision of Rs. 33580.93 crore was made for State Disaster Response Fund. The same has been increased to Rs. 61220 crore for the period 2015-2020. A relief of only Rs. 12516.20 crore was approved between 2010-14 crore to the States affected by drought and hailstorm. The NDA Government in year 2014-15 alone approved an amount of Rs. 9017.998 crore as relief to the States affected by drought and hailstorm. During the year 2015-16, Rs. 13496.57 crore have already been approved for till now.