PM Modi moots all-solar cities to generate new jobs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has mooted the idea of model cities where the power needs of the entire population are fully met through solar energy, while the consequent thrust on solar equipment manufacturing would in turn help generate employment.

Chairing a meeting to review the progress of key infrastructure sectors, including petroleum and natural gas, power, renewable energy and housing, on Monday the prime minister called for greater emphasis on new and renewable energy, including ethanol blending, and evolution of mechanisms and processes that can benefit farmers the most. He called for expediting the setting up of second-generation bio-ethanol refineries, to utilise agricultural residues for this purpose.

In course of the presentation made by CEO NITI Aayog, it was noted that remarkable progress has been made in several sectors, including generation of renewable energy, affordable and rural housing, LED bulbs etc.

The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana has benefited 19.8 million BPL households so far. The contribution of gas to the primary energy mix has risen to 8 per cent while 81 cities are being covered under city gas distribution networks.

The rural electrification programme, which is proceeding swiftly, with over 13,000 villages electrified out of a total of 18,452, is on track for completion within the targeted 1,000 days. Over 2.2 million rural BPL households were electrified in 2016-17, and over 400 million LED bulbs were distributed in the same period.

The total inter-regional transmission capacity has been significantly enhanced, with 41 GigaWatts transmission capacity being added from May 2014 to April 2017.

The total renewable generation capacity has crossed 57 GigaWatts, with an increase of 24.5 per cent being registered in the last fiscal year. The capacity addition in solar energy in FY17 was the highest-ever, at 81 per cent. Solar and wind tariffs have now achieved grid parity, with rates well below Rs4 per unit.

The Prime Minister called for establishment of some model solar cities, where the power requirement is fulfilled solely by solar energy. A similar effort can be made to make certain localities kerosene-free, he added.

Remarkable progress has been achieved under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana in rural areas. Over 3.2 million houses have been completed in rural areas in FY17. IT and space-based applications are being extensively used to monitor progress of the scheme.

The prime minister enquired about the training and skills being given to rural masons, who were involved with this scheme.

Seeking a consolidated approach to various schemes, such as electrification, IT networks and housing, the prime minister called for a focused approach on the 100 worst performing districts in each case.

He directed that future reviews should focus on problems at the district-level, so that the progress of poorly performing districts can be better monitored.