Lessons From Gujarat‚Äôs Jyoti Gram Project
Jyoti Gram Project of Gujarat is one success story that deserves standing ovation. The project has afforded the fruits of nonstop electricity to all villages, so much so that Gujarat produces and sells surplus electricity today. All it took was careful planning and execution.
In the last decade or so of Modi‚Äôs involvement in Gujarat‚Äôs success story has its fair share of critics and aficionados. The critics don‚Äôt even recognize any success; the most common refrain is, ‚ÄúThe Gujjus have always been known to be an enterprising and pennywise lot... economic prosperity is in their DNA!‚ÄĚ
Well, one wonders what happened to the DNA of the entire country that was once known as the Golden Bird; not because we produced gold in abundance, but we had it in abundance. Our Southern dynasties would sell their iron- and steel-articles to the Romans and would get gold in return!
So it must be settled that it‚Äôs not true about the Gujaratis, but of all the Indians. Stereotyping Gujaratis is like saying that all Japanese are hard-working or all Venezuelans good-looking. Credit must be given, where it is due.
We are no supporter of saffronization and non-secular side of the story. We, like all Indians, are ashamed of the 2002 Gujarat riots. We have faith in the judiciary and believe that the law will take its own course.
But we also believe that everyone must imbibe positives from others; Modi‚Äôs Gujarat has many important lessons for the other states ‚Äď the recent one came into stark focus when the power-grid failure condemned about half the nation into darkness. Explanations galore followed; the most common being that it was the result of overdrawing of power by various states. It leads us to question why such a situation arose. Many reasons are there, the chief ones being:
- Increased demand: Due to increased net disposable income of people and wider reach of electronic gadgets
- Governmental subsidies and concessions to farmers in Northern states
- High transmission losses
- Single-phase, serve-all type of transmission
- Stagnant or poorly increasing production
- Various projects in limbo, in wait of environmental clearances
If you give a cursory look to the reasons mentioned above, you can well come to a logical conclusion that it may not be possible for a state government to control/manage all the above-mentioned variables, but it is impossible that it is difficult for all the state governments to not do anything about all these variables (especially those highlighted). This is where Gujarat acted smart.
The state boasts of a near 24-hour electricity supply not just in metros like Ahmedabad andGandhinagar, but in all of its about 18,000 villages. And the state government has better plans in store, in spite of being a power-surplus state; the government plans to increase the state‚Äôs electricity production from the current 13,500 MW (68,710 million units) to 18,000 MW by the end of the year. And they are not just planning; they also have an actionable agenda in sight ‚Äď the state is already demanding the centre to sanction another ultra mega power plant (UMPP) to Gujarat, in addition to the one already operating in Mundra. These plants plan to benefit by economies of scale realised by large scale production of electricity using imported coal, and will significantly reduce the costs of production.
Gujarat has no hydroelectric potential like North Indian states with supplies of the perennial and glacier-originating Himalayan Rivers, and not even big nuclear power plants in line; but still, the state sells electricity to other states. Hold your breath while we tell you the rates ‚Äď Rs 9.52 per unit to Delhi, Rd 8.51 per unit to Rajasthan and Rs 7.70 per unit to Maharashtra. This translated in profits of Rs 1,888 crore, which were used to fund the state‚Äôs Rs 3,000 crore to its farmers. And all this came by selling seven per cent surplus power that the state at present produces.
So everything is going great for the state. It is selling power, while it has sufficient power for its own farmers. Usually the power across Indian villages is transferred in a single phase and any overdraw results in load-shedding for the entire clusters of villages. Gujarat spent some Rs 1,200 crore in making multiple phases available ‚Äď 24-hr-uninterrupted supply for domestic use and 8-hr-quality-supply for agricultural use at pre-announced times.
This simple, yet ingenious method proved useful; the centre plans to use this plan for the entire country‚Äôs villages. The project was launched in 2006, and has resulted in a decline of transmission losses of electricity from 35 per cent to 15-19 per cent (overheating and dissipation losses are a technical limitation; all metals heat up when current is passed through them, resulting in what is called as transmission loss).
Gujarat‚Äôs story doesn‚Äôt stop here; various other initiatives like a universal health care assurance for school going children by providing routine check up, best-in-class support to pregnant women, establishment of evening courts for fast disposal of cases from overburdened courts and presence of a direct channel of grievance redressal between citizens and the chief minister are indeed praiseworthy.
Are the other states learning?
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