Ministerial Conclave held on ‘Transforming India: Key Initiatives’

This interesting and much-sought after session was chaired by the Hon’ble Minister for Raod Transport & Highways and Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari. Mr. Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner, McKinsey and Co., was the moderator for the session. Mr. Gupta commenced the session enumerating the theme for the session. Explaining the four dimensions of India’s energy sector, Mr. Gupta put three questions for the future in his theme presentations. Access, Production and supply security, Sustainability – India has committed at COP21, and Economics – Cost of energy and its implications, were the four pillars for discussion in his presentation. Making the point on sustainability, he reiterated the commitments made in Paris for reduction of Green House Gas intensity to 30-35% by 2030. He highlighted some of uncertainties of energy front and identified three scenarios to deal with these uncertainties. He incorporated the uncertainties of energy scenarios in three cases, namely, Reference case; continuing current pace of progress, Technology breakthrough: growth boosted by technological improvements and Lost opportunity: slowed down pace of growth. He pointed out three big moves which could transit to a tech breakthrough. ‘The real breakthroughs are expected in Electrical vehicles, Efficiency improvement, and AT&C loss reduction,’ added Mr. Gupta. He identified the three areas for investment in capacities which included 100+ million tonnes in refinery capacity,in Thermal power plants and in Solar and Wind generation capacity.

Hon’ble MoS (I/C) for Power, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Govt. of India, Mr.Piyush Goyal, was the next speaker to present the views on the theme. Recalling the words of Hon’ble Prime Minister of the inaugural transforming India series, he reiterated that ‘Transforming India can’t occur without transforming governance, which in turn, depends on transformation of mindset and ideas.’ He went on to say, “We are committed to create a more regulator, stable and transparent framework so that businesses can prosper in India. We are working to bring cleaner fuels and have provided a historic push to alternative energy. 20000 MW worth of solar projects have been bid out, and by 2030, we have a vision that all new vehicles will be electric.” ‘India’s time has come, and it is the choice of participants today at PETROTECH and those watching that India should be part of a chance of a lifetime. We have seen multiple successes, and efforts to transparency and energy security will most definitely bear fruit in the next few years. We implore you to engage, work and cooperate with India, to transform this sector into the best in the world’, he concluded.

Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Minister for Railways, Government of India, also reiterated the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister of improving the lifestyle of people and quality of life which must not be limited to income only but also to the environmental concerns, air, water and land. He stressed on the fact that railways have a big role to play in reducing India’s import dependency, and have taken steps to become producers of energy too. “With huge investment coming into railways soon, we will soon be the largest producer of solar energy in India via integration of solar technology. We have also restored water bodies in lands owned by us, and are planning to plant 50 million trees alongside tracks. All this will transform our energy mix”, added Mr. Prabhu. He admitted that Railway has fallen behind on modernization of railways network. Ageing infrastructure of railways needs not just new blood, but also a new heart. He highlighted the initiative of government to put focus in a very significant way. Underlining the challenges for the nation which was to get maximum growth by limited harm to the natural capital, Mr. Prabhu said, ‘In the next few years, Railways will be the largest consumer of solar energy in India’. He concluded, ‘Clean coal tech, better gas, carbon sequestration etc. will make hydrocarbon stay for longer’.

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, Hon’ble Minister of State (I/C) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, called for a stoppage of mimicking developed countries, and rather focus on turning India into a role model for the whole world. “Development and environment protection go hand in hand, and we must procure technology from the experts keeping in mind the environment concerns”, said Hon’ble Minister. He raised the question of using CSR only on environment. ‘Why not use more to clean our own environment? Should I stop at a signal because a police officer is standing or should I stop because it is my duty?’ asked he. He made it clear that instead of following the developed countries, as India has time-tested culture and civilization, it should continue on leadership position.

Mr Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (I/c) for Petroleum & NG, expounded, “Environment and industrial progress are complementary. This is the crux of ‘Transforming India’.” He also stressed upon the world-class capability of refineries to process ‘any oil in the world’, and how the world looks up to our DBT scheme and Ujjwala Yojana as programs that can encourage social and economic transformation of not just our country, but the whole globe. ‘India has a global responsibility, and it will follow its own lead. Our ‘Indian model’ will definitely be a ‘world model’. This will be ‘Transforming energy to transform the world’, instead of just India’, concluded Mr. Pradhan.

Concluding the session, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister for Road transport & Highways and Minister for Shipping, termed industry and agriculture as two mainstays of economy and said that without power and energy, industry cannot grow which in turn will result in no-job and no-investment. He gave the prime priority on waterways, second priority on railways, and attached last priority to roads.He also discussed the cement-concrete express highway in Delhi – eastern and western bypass which was completed in 400 days instead of 2.5 years and will be inaugurated shortly. ‘We are planning for 10-12 more such access control highways’, said he. He called for reducing logistical costs of transport in order to reduce India’s import dependency. He also threw light on the achievements of the government in strengthening the nation’s road network, something that will help reduce our energy demands. He also quipped, “We need to have an integrated approach where we think about fuel, technology, automobile and transport sector together. Our researches and initiatives in introducing clean innovative fuels like ethanol and flex fuels will create a revolution in India.” Talking about the prospects of electric vehicle batteries in India, he informed,’ we are working with ISRO to reduce cost of battery cost from 55 lakhs (In the UK) to 6 lakhs in India. The day is not far when all our vehicles will be electric’. He concluded saying that Sweden has electric highways and India could also explore them as well.

Finally, Mr. Rajat Gupta summarised the key takeaways from the session.