Hello and welcome once again to Electrical India. The much-awaited cabinet reshuffle of the Modi government was done today and as was expected Piyush Goyal has been shunted out of the power ministry and he has been succeeded by former bureaucrat R K Singh. I must add word of appreciation for the former power minister before we tell him good bye and get used to writing power minister R K Singh. Piyush Goyal, who has been elevated to cabinet rank and named as the new minister of railways, will also retain the ministry of coal.
No doubt, there is still power shortage and no electricity in many thousands of villages throughout the country, but Piyush Goyal, who was considered the harbinger of change in the power sector, has in the past three years completely transformed the power and energy scenario in the country. In my career as a journalist in the power industry for over 20 years, I can emphatically say that Piyush is one such power minister, who has not only made electricity accessible and affordable but has also made the country’s position in the world bank’s electricity accessibility index up from 99 when he took over to 26 when he was promoted today. Strangely, another former power minister who was dynamic in the power ministry was also from the BJP -- in the erstwhile Vajpayee government. He was Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, who propelled mega power projects forward and delivered on his promises and whom I had interviewed for Electrical India a few months before he passed away at a very young age of 48 in August of 2000.
Goyal’s game changer has been his own scripted Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), which is the first comprehensive power sector reform seen in India as it covers the entire value chain in the power sector from fuel to generation, transmission, renewable, distribution and consumers. Many of our highly indebted state power distribution companies, which are the weakest link in the electricity value chain has turned around.
The target of UDAY and the power ministry has not yet been met. A lot is still to be done. Hopefully, his successor R K Singh, whose first statement after taking charge was complimenting Piyush Goyal for finishing bulk of the work he had started and for making his challenge easier, will be taking it to the finishing line before the next general election. Going by his track record as a bureaucrat, ministry of power will be the ministry to watch for, for action and surprises. After all, this entire exercise of cabinet reshuffle was also done keeping in mind the next general election. Please send in your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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