Intra-State Sections of Evacuation Infrastructure for Renewables Delayed

MNRE said it is clarifying if farmers can use MPLAD for the PM-KUSUM program


The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy that the intra-state stretches of the Green Energy Corridor (GEC) have been delayed due to various reasons, including right-of-way issues, court cases, forest clearances, delayed tenders due to non-availability of land for substations.

Another reason for the delay in the award of works is that the low bid turnout in various projects resulted in repeated retendering.

The report is based on the ministry’s replies that were submitted in June last year and are part of the report titled “Action-taken by the government on observations/recommendations contained in the twenty-fourth report (17th Lok Sabha) on demands for grants (2022-23) of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy”. It was tabled in Parliament earlier this week.

The Committee noted that while the inter-state transmission system component of GEC consisting of the total length of 3,200 ckm transmission lines and 17,000 MVA substations had been completed, the intra-state section had been given multiple extensions.

It added that only 8,468 ckm of transmission lines had been constructed out of the total target of 9,700 ckm. Similarly, only 15,268 MVA substations were charged out of a total target of 22,600 MVA as on December 31, 2021.

“It implies that 1,232 ckm of transmission lines must be constructed and 7,332 MVA of substations have to be charged to meet even the extended deadline of June 30, 2022,” the Committee said.

The ministry, in its response, said that it would make all efforts to persuade states to complete the implementation of this scheme expeditiously.

India plans to invest ₹2.8 trillion ($34.2 billion) by 2030 in setting up an interstate transmission network to evacuate renewable energy, said K Sreekant, Chairman and Managing Director of government-owned Powergrid Corporation of India.

Separately, the report also showed that the Committee expressed concern over the slow progress of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) program. The program had set a goal of adding a solar capacity of 30.8 GW by the end of 2022.

The Committee observed that against the target of 10,000 MW of grid-connected solar projects under Component A of the program, only 27.8 MW could be installed.

Similarly, under component B, against the target of 2 million stand-alone solar pumps, only 78,940 pumps have been installed. Under component C, against the target of 1.5 million grid-connected solar agriculture pumps, only 1,026 pumps have been solarized.

“The Committee are extremely disappointed with the dismal performance of the ministry under this scheme. It is observed that farmers have been facing issues in getting finance from the banks for small solar projects, and most of the states are not able to provide their share of the subsidy under the program,” the report said.

Further, the Committee suggested that the ministry allow payment of farmers’ share of funds through the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Program (MPLAD) program to ease the issue of fund crunch.

The ministry said that it had requested the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, which is the nodal Ministry for the MPLAD Fund, to clarify whether the farmer’s contribution under PM-KUSUM Program Component-B and C can be provided from MPLAD Fund based on the recommendations of the MP concerned.

Based on the clarification, the ministry would revise PM-KUSUM guidelines, the report quoted the ministry.

Earlier this year, MNRE granted a final extension to solar projects pending installation under Component A of the PM-KUSUM program to September 30, 2023, citing the difficulties faced by farmers in accessing finances during the initial phase.