Gujarat’s success in the power sector universally lauded- amid gloom Gujarat sets an example says one newspaper!
Wall Street Journal lauds Gujarat’s reforms in power sector. Says it’s the only state that consumes less than it produces.
From international and Indian media to netizens, immense praise for Shri Modi’s handling of the power sector over the last decade.
A sector that was previously facing problems was successfully turned around and his now winning awards from the Government of India.
For two days, starting 30th July 2012 a large part of India including the national capital Delhi plunged into darkness due to a massive power grid failure. On 31st July, it was not only the Northern Grid but also the Eastern Grid that failed leaving more than 60 crore people and 19 states in the dark. Experts have called it India’s worst power crisis.
The crisis once again brought to the forefront some elementary lessons that were often repeated but scarcely followed by most states vis-à-vis the power sector. However, one state that remained totally unaffected from the massive power crisis across more than half of India was Gujarat.
Since the last three days, there has been renewed focus on Gujarat’s success in the power sector. From international media houses, the Indian mainstream media to the netizens on Twitter, Gujarat’s “brightness” in the time of Delhi and other part’s “darkness” became the hot topic of discussion. Yet again, Gujarat established itself as a benchmark of development and transparent governance.Dated 1st August 2012, leading international newspaper Wall Street Journal carried a story titled “More Power to India’s States” in which it critiqued the lack of reforms in the Indian power sector for the last few years. Wall Street Journal however notes Gujarat’s success in the power sector as a major exception. It writes, “But perhaps the greatest display of political gumption and policy creativity comes from Gujarat in the west. Chief Minister Narendra Modi's first victory was curbing the theft of power, one reason for transmission and distribution losses.”
WSJ notes that Gujarat’s biggest innovative zeal has been to establish a parallel distribution network that has led to stability in supply along with giving farmers competitive prices. It acknowledges Gujarat as, “…the only Indian state that generates more power than it consumes.” But WSJ notes that while all states may not be as bold as Gujarat, the real scope for power reforms comes from the states Shri Narendra Modi is a stark contrast to the Centre and could be an inspiration for other states.
Similar praise for Gujarat’s power sector turnaround has come from leading international brokerage firm CLSA. CLSA noted how Gujarat made 100% power in the villages a reality ending a history of power theft and poor management.
The Indian media has been equally forthcoming in praising Gujarat’s power successes. The Times of India carried a story with a catchy title, ‘Power grid failure: Amid gloom, Gujarat sets an example.’ The story notes how it is not only the big cities of Gujarat but also the 18,000 villages of the state that are beneficiaries of uninterrupted electricity. It also notes the success of the Jyotigram Yojana in this commendable transformation.
Gujarat’s power sector turnaround is the result of a determined effort that began approximately a decade ago. In February this year, leading business magazine Business Today did a comprehensive narrative of what Gujarat did differently that led to this amazing turnaround. Till a decade ago, Gujarat’s power sector was in urgent need of reform. The state electricity board GSEB was incurring heavy losses, interests were rising and transmission losses were frequent. These were exactly the things Shri Modi altered when he took charge. Beginning with restructuring finances, Shri Modi went on to unleash other reforms including renegotiating power purchase agreements and controlling leakages. An act passed in 2003 even enabled better management. The rest of course is history…
Today not only has the power sector witnessed a complete turnaround but also Gujarat’s power companies are winning awards at the national level. In March this year, 3 companies of the Gujarat Government were awarded for their outstanding performance in the power sector.
But, if you thought Gujarat was content with these advances you may want to think again. Despite being a power surplus state, Gujarat is looking at making wide scale advances in renewable sources of energy. Shri Modi began with solar power and is now moving towards wind, thermal and tidal energy. In April this year he inaugurated Asia’s largest solar park at Charanka in Mehsana. Days later he dedicated India’s first canal top solar power project to the nation. All these advances have received praise from none other than UPA Cabinet Minister for Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah.
Thus, as India plunged into darkness clamour for asking the other states and particularly the Centre to emulate Gujarat’s model of power reforms is only increasing. Shri Modi himself came down heavily on the Centre’s mismanagement of the power sector. Expressing his views on Twitter, he said, “Pradhan Mantri ji, 60 cr people & 19 states are in darkness. Country wants to know is there any coalition dharma you are following here too?” He added, “With poor economic management UPA has emptied pockets of common man; kept stomachs hungry with inflation & today pushed them into darkness!”
The power is the lifeline of any nation’s growth. Such blackouts do not augur well for an aspiring superpower likes India. In such a time, it was heartening to see Gujarat’s power sector turnaround being appreciated across various sections of the national and international media, thinkers and netizens. When Shri Modi assumed office, the request people made to him was to give them as much electricity that they can enjoy their evening meal. Today, the entire Gujarat is covered by brightness, every single day of the year!
Now that’s what you call POWER TO THE MASSES!