After Saubhagya, govt plans induction stoves for the poor

• The government is working on an ambitious plan to provide induction stoves to poor households in rural and urban India.

• The scheme being explored by the Union power ministry will help reduce the import of fossil fuels and generate fresh demand for electricity and consequently support underutilized power plants.

• The shift to induction cooking will be possible after the Rs 16,320 crore Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya) is implemented. The scheme is expected to increase India’s electricity demands, with the centre setting a December 2018 deadline to provide electrical connections to more than 40 million rural and urban households.

• This comes against the backdrop of non-performing assets (NPAs) in power generation accounting for around 5.9% of the banking sector’s total outstanding advances of Rs 4.73 trillion, according to the second volume of the Economic Survey 2016-17 released in August.

• Any substitution of fuels for cooking and heating will improve India’s per capita power consumption of around 1,200 kWh, which is among the lowest in the world. According to the government, the Saubhagya scheme will require an additional 28,000 megawatts of power, considering an average load of 1 kilowatt per household for eight hours in a day.

• The government is exploring a series of measures to boost electricity demand in the country. A total of 34 coal-fuelled power projects, with an estimated debt of Rs 1.77 trillion, that have been identified by the department of financial services, have been reviewed by the government. These projects face problems such as the paucity of funds, lack of power purchase agreements and absence of fuel security. Of the projects accounting for 75,000 MW facing problems, those accounting for 40,000 MW can be salvaged, it was found.

• The measures to boost demand include setting up a pan-India power distribution company, given that the segment will be key to the long-term fortunes of the power sector. Distribution companies (discoms) have so far been the weakest link in the electricity value chain. Poor payment records of state-owned discoms have not only adversely affected power generation companies, but have also contributed to stress in the banking sector.

• The country’s energy demand is likely to go up by 2.7-3.2 times between 2012 and 2040 and hence the need to scale new frontiers, according to the government’s policy think tank, NITI Aayog. India’s per capita energy demand is expected to reach 1,055-1,184 kilogram of oil equivalent (kgoe) in 2040 from 503kgoe in 2012.

• Induction cooking is more efficient as energy is directly transferred to the pan.

• India is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China and among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.

• The government is also working towards ensuring stable electricity supply in the country. Its aim is to provide “24X7 clean and affordable power for all” by March 2019, with the state governments and Union territories on board for the objective.

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