Over past few articles, we saw the works done by the Prime Minister, the ‘Big 4’ ministers, infrastructure ministries like Road Transport and Railways. In this article, we would review the works done on the energy front. Without energy security, no country can progress, and Dharmendra Pradhan, the minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, who is also the minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, has done a splendid job in taking energy security to the lowest strata of the Indian population. However, before we go deeper into the achievements of Dharmendra Pradhan, a brief about the man himself.
Dharmendra Pradhan also started as student activist in ABVP, like many others in the BJP in 1983. Rising through the ranks, he became national secretary of ABVP in 1995. Thereafter he was first elected to Odisha Legislative Assembly in the year 2000. He was first elected to Lok Sabha in 2004 representing Deogarh in parliament. Meanwhile he was also given various organizational responsibilities in the BJP, and served as national president of BJYM between 2004 – 2006. Thereafter he was appointed as national secretary of BJP in 2007. In 2010, he was appointed as general secretary of BJP. He was first elected to Rajya Sabha in 2012 from Bihar, and was reelected to Rajya Sabha in 2018 from Madhya Pradesh. In 2014, he was first inducted as minister of state (independent charge) of Petroleum and Natural Gas in the Narendra Modi’s council of ministers. Later in 2017, he was elevated as cabinet minister with the same portfolio and was also given charge of ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, a new ministry created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a subject very close to Prime Minister’s heart. Dharmendra Pradhan is M.A (Anthropology) by qualification.
Let’s have a look at his achievements.
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
Ujjwala Yojana – Ujjwala Yojana is a path-breaking initiative launched by Narendra Modi government to provide free LPG connections to all poor, to give them access to clean energy and saving the hassles of cooking on hazardous kerosene or firewood stoves. Due to Ujjwala Yojana, LPG coverage in India has gone up from 55% in 2014 to 90% in 2018. As of now, the government has released over 7 crore connections to poor households out of targeted 8 crore. Interim finance minister Piyush Goyal, in his last budget speech said that government is confident of meeting its entire target by next year, meaning by 2020, every household in India will have access to clean energy for cooking. Majority of the beneficiaries of this scheme are SC/ST, minority women, which aren’t traditionally considered as BJPs voters. However Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government staying true to its slogan of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, has cared for every section of the society as demonstrated by schemes like Ujjwala, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Saubhgya Yojana.
If we consider an average family size of 5, over 30 crore people are direct beneficiaries of Ujjwala Scheme alone. Having access to clean fuel has saved at least 7 crore women from respiratory diseases. World Health Organisation (WHO) has also praised Ujjwala scheme in its pollution report. Such is the benefit of Ujjwala that, India would soon become a kerosene free country. According to the interim budget, 12 states and union territories have already surrendered their kerosene allocations under PDS. Such is the impact of this scheme that, this writer wanted kerosene for pest control treatment in the house. Even after going to around 10 shops, not a single drop of kerosene was available anywhere. Imagine government withdrawn kerosene from the market without giving an alternative and furore it would have caused?
PAHAL – Direct Benefit Transfer to LPG customers – Government launched PAHAL scheme in November 2014, to directly transfer subsidy benefit to the bank accounts of LPG customers which resulted in increased transparency. Though the LPG subsidy scheme was first launched by UPA government in September 2013, it had teething problems which were sorted by Modi government while re-launching the scheme in November next year. PAHAL was recognized as the world’s largest cash benefit transfer scheme by the Guinness Book of World Records. According to the government figures, till September 2018, around 25 crore LPG consumers had joined PAHAL Scheme. Rs 84,316 crore have been directly transferred to bank accounts by the government resulting in estimated savings of Rs. 41,952 crore. All Ujjwala beneficiaries are also directly linked to PAHAL from beginning itself.
Give it up – Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally appealed to well off consumers to give up LPG subsidy. Due to his charismatic personality, and connect with the people, Modi’s appeal worked and more than 1 crore people have already given up their LPG subsidy.
URJA Ganga project – Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched URJA Ganga project in October 2016. This scheme envisaged the laying of gas pipeline from Jagdishpur – Haldia and Bokaro –Dhamra to fulfil the energy needs of eastern India. The project will not only supply CNG to automobiles and cooking gas to household kitchens in cities along the route, but also to industries to meet their feedstock or fuel requirement. The project will usher in industrial development in the eastern part of India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertilizer and power plants, refineries, steel plants, and other industries. It will also provide clean energy to households, and transportation in the cities en route the pipeline. The city gas network (supply through piped gas) in Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack has already been started. It would also revive three closed public sector fertilizer plants at Sindri, Gorakhpur and Barauni. Government has now decided to extend it to North East India as well.
Toilets at petrol pumps under Swachch Bharat Mission – Provisions of rulebook has been changed and not having functional toilet has now been classified as major irregularity by oil companies and penalty provisions have been suitably amended. According to the government data 55,943 petrol pumps out of total 56,760 petrol pumps have toilet facility by June 2018. Out of these 32,334 petrol pumps have separate toilet facilities for men and women. Oil companies are putting all efforts to have separate toilets for men and women at all petrol pumps.
Digital payments – Modi government has steadfastly promoted digital payments in order to make India a less cash society. Under this, now 96% petrol pumps have facility to accept payments digitally.
Promotion of biofuels – From July 2017, government has ordered compulsory blending of biodiesel with regular diesel in specified limits given by Bureau of Indian Standard. Using biofuels reduce carbon emissions and help in lowering the overall carbon footprint of the country. Biofuel is also being promoted in the aviation sector. Recently first time India, Dehradun – Delhi flight with DGCA officials onboard successfully completed its flight on biofuel. India is the first developing country to successfully have completed biofuel flight. Before India, only developed countries like Canada, Australia and the USA had flights operating on biofuel.
Deregulation of Diesel – Though UPA government had deregularised petrol prices at the fag end of its tenure, it hesitated in deregularising diesel prices, and linking it with market rates owing to elections as diesel consumption in India is more than double that of petrol, as it is used in commercial vehicles, tractors, trains etc. Modi government deregularised diesel prices, and completely removed subsidy, and prices were linked with market rates saving a huge subsidy bill for the central government and using that money for other developmental activities and infrastructure spending.
Daily updation in fuel prices – Modi government took a policy decision in July 2017, to update fuel prices daily, in line with global practices to reflect the actual oil rates, by stopping the practice of updating it once in a fortnight. This move ensures that the smallest benefit of change in global prices is passed to the consumer immediately. It also stops huge hike or drop in prices every fortnight. The policy of updating fuel prices once in fortnight was started by Vajpayee government, which stopped arbitrary change in prices by oil companies, whenever they wanted under Congress rule,
Ministry of Skill Development – the separate ministry for skill development was created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as there is a huge skills gap in Indian human resources.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) – PMKVY was launched in July, 2015 with an aim to provide formal short-term skill training across the country, recognizing the skills through certification and enhancing employability opportunities among the youth. Till September 2018, nearly 25 lakh people have been trained under PMKVY. Model training centres known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras(PMKK) are being set up in every district across India.
National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme – This scheme was launched in August, 2016 to promote apprenticeship training with the target of 50 Lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20 by incentivizing employers to engage apprentices through sharing of cost of basic training and reimbursement of 25% of prescribed stipend.
Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana – This scheme was launched in November, 2016 to encourage entrepreneurship among youth. The scheme aims at creating a culture of entrepreneurship amongst youth by motivating, educating and equipping them with basics skills of entrepreneurship. The scheme has been launched in 2200 Institutes of Higher Learning (colleges/universities/polytechnics), 300 schools, 500 ITI’s and 50 Entrepreneurship Development Centres (EDCs). The entrepreneurship education will be provided to interested students through Facilitated Blended Model, which is a combination of e-Learning and Classroom teaching. The course curriculum is based on experiential learning and emphasizes on learning by doing. E Cell is an essential component of the scheme, which will help students develop their entrepreneurial capabilities by virtue of exposing them to real-life situations. Participating institutes and students will be provided handholding support through a network of 55 regional and nodal hubs, spread across the country.
The author is journalism pass out from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. After dangerously flirting with the idea of left during his IIMC days, due to the proximity of the IIMC with JNU, a den of radical leftists, he became firmly aligned to right after realizing the futility of the left. He tweets at @kpophale.