“Telangana is the only state to provide free power 24*7 to more than 23 lakh agricultural consumers in the state,” says Ajay Misra, Special Chief Secretary, Department of Energy, Government of Telangana. In this exclusive interview with Sudheer Goutham of Elets News Network (ENN), Misra talks about the current scenario in the power, agriculture and infrastructure sectors of the youngest state of India. He also shares the future roadmap for the development of Telangana.
You have made major contribution in the energy sector of Telangana. Please share the challenges and opportunities in building the state as one of the energy surplus states in India.
To be frank, much of the work was already done before I joined this department, since 2014, when Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were bifurcated. Telangana was a power deficit state by about 30 percent in 2014. Within a short span of time, the state, with the guidance of the Chief Minister, had been instrumental in contracting of power from available sources and then by going for short term power projects, especially in the solar sector and later in the thermal sector, today we are self sufficient in power. Now Telangana is the only state to provide free power 24*7 to more than 23 lakh agricultural consumers in the state. The credit goes to the excellent leadership the Chief Minister, and also to the staff of the state power sector who rose to the occasion and achieved this feat.
Government of Telangana is in the forefront of producing renewable energy. Please share the present scenario.
Today, Telangana is the second largest generator of the solar power, which is one of the key renewable energy sources. Approximately 3,600 Megawatts solar beams are generated. This has been effective only in the past four years. Prior to 2015, the solar energy generation was approximately 40-50 Megawatts. The State adopted an innovative approach and did not adopt the solar park model, which many other states opted for. As the park model has its own challenges. Telangana went for decentralised generation model in the solar sector and that has brought excellent results in the form of energy and cost savings through reduction in T&D losses and avoidance of transmission investment.
What is the definition of the term innovation for you? What kind of innovation is implemented in the Energy sector?
There are two aspects, innovation and discovery. We discover something which already exists and you find out. Innovation is what is not there earlier and you find it out either by intuition or your own analysis and implement it.
The first innovation would be the decentralised model of solar energy generation, taken by the Telangana government through its companies. There have been other initiatives by the state government, which include Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). Last year, the state had implemented a scheme, Rythu Bandhu or friend of farmers. Within this scheme, the government gives Rs 5,000 per acre to the farmer for two crops harvested in a year, which means Rs 10,000 per acre to each farmer. Instead of manual method of disbursing the amount, where farmers would have to generally visit the government offices, we utilised technology and credited the amount to the farmers’ bank accounts directly.
What is your vision for the energy sector which you would like to implement in the next few years?
Presently, we contract more than 2,200 Megawatts of power through short and long term suppliers. One of the suppliers is Chhattisgarh Government DISCOM. Others are private parties which come through tender process. During the next four years, we will be adding approximately 5,000 Megawatts of power in the thermal sector and 1600 Megawatts renewable capacity from NTPC. With that, we will be self sufficient in power and not have to depend on external suppliers for long. We are also aware that demand will grow. Few thousand industries are being set in Telangana. We are aware of how much demand it would put on the Energy sector and we have planned for it. Apart from the above, another 2,400 Megawatts electricity generation is also planned for the industry and irrigation projects.
What is the current status of promoting electric vehicles in Telangana?
We have already initiated electric vehicles in the government sector. As many as 10 Electric passenger vehicles have been given by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). Besides that, 100 electric buses will be inducted in the Telangana RTC out of which 40 have already been supplied and the rest will be supplied over the next few months. The next phase of induction of electric vehicles in TSRTC will be initiated. Our Electric Vehicle Policy is in the final stages and will be launched at the appropriate time.
What are the challenges in implementing the solar pumps?
There is a challenge of putting forth the solar pumps as on today. Telangana supplies free power to over 23 lakh agriculture consumers in the state. The implementation of solar pumps involves 10 percent contribution coming from the farmers. As and when they come with this contribution, our electricity companies will be implementing it. However, it will require much effort in the part of the society and famers to come up with that.
Would you like to share any other initiatives of the state?
Telangana is also investing in infrastructure for the future much before other states are visualising it. In the state, we have created outer ring road at 25 to 30 kilometre radius from Hyderabad. We are in the process of finalising the details of Regional Ring Road, a highway of almost 250 kilometre length at a radius 50 to 60 kilometres around Hyderabad. It would give much impetus to the urban and industrial development around Hyderabad.