Goyal pushes for technology to tackle coal mafia, save energy

By Editor


Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday pushed for energy efficient means to save mounting electricity costs by at least $2 billion by 2019, and said the central government was keen to utilise technology to combat the coal mafia.

He said the central government has pilot-run a project using GIS mapping of the entire coal mine area along with creating an electronic boundary. GPRS systems have been used in the entire process and CCTV cameras were installed for monitoring. In the project, computerised automated weigh-bridges have also been used, besides other “technological interventions”.

The minister was responding to a question from a social media platform Facebook user about the steps taken by the National Democratic Alliance government to combat the coal mafia.

He said after getting encouraging results from the test which has brought in transparency, it will be used in the country’s top 30-40 mines which account for 75 percent of Coal India’s output.

“At some stage, I am visualising a live feed from these cameras and technology for the public to view,” he said.

The minister, while admitting to major losses during electricity transmission and distribution, particularly in north and east India, said steps have been taken to plug the loopholes.

“We have started two new schemes for rural and urban areas focused on upgrading the T&D infrastructure by feeder segregation of powerlines to the farms, extensive metering along the transmission corridors, smart meters, and advanced communication systems to integrate consumption data with billing so that we can address this problem of power theft and distribution losses,” he said.

Complaining about “inefficiencies” in the discoms and the power sector, Goyal pointed out that several discoms at state levels are suffering huge losses which requires his attention. He said it is more viable to solve challenges involving power generation costs and theft than hike power tariffs to make the industry more efficient.

“At the state level, several discoms have huge losses due to inefficient management over the years which also needs to be sorted out,” he said.

Asked about the broadband fibre-network along the power grids, the minister said the Power Grid Corporation has already set up fiber optic cables across its entire network.

“We are talking to the states to supplement these lines on the state grid, going right down to the consumer. This will enable provision of broadband at much cheaper rates, he said adding that the process was part of the Digital India campaign, about which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “very passionate”.

Expressing delight over the response from the people to the move to conserve electricity, Goyal said his government is hoping the demand for rooftop solar panels will go up. The government has plans to roll out 40,000 MW from rooftop solar power in the next seven years.

“Concurrently, we will start procurement through reverse bidding which should help bring down the prices. To what extent the prices will come down, I cannot say at this point,” he said.


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