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Government think tank NITI Aayog has pitched for 24x7 electricity for all, bringing reforms in diesel and petrol pricing, and city gas distribution in 100 smart cities in its Three-Year Action Agenda released on Thursday.
The document, unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, also calls for steps to promote electric cooking and adoption of electric vehicles.
Besides, the Aayog has also suggested the government to ensure availability of electricity, petrol, diesel and gas at competitive prices to households, in the document to be implemented by 2019-20.
The government think tank expressed concerns that at present, around 304 million Indians do not have access to electricity and around 500 million Indians are dependent on solid biomass for cooking.
Besides, it said that India's per capita electricity consumption remains a fraction of major economies. Average transmission and distribution (T&D) power losses stand at 23 per cent.
The government has already committed to bring electricity to every village by May 2018 and to every household by 2022.
Within the existing LPG network, the Aayog said that India must launch a campaign to bring LPG connections down to one per family and target 100 smart cities for the provision of gas via the City Gas Distribution (CGD).
It said that for expanding the penetration of natural gas, the CGD network should be extended to 326 cities by 2022 through suitable changes in bidding/regulatory practices of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).
It further said that the work should also be resumed in about 10,258 km gas pipelines bid out by the PNGRB, by suitably incentivising pipeline companies with better tariff mechanism, assured throughput and Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support, as per the specific situation.
It also suggested that for streamlining the demand in the industrial sector, the cross-subsidy in the power sector must be substantially reduced so that industry may receive electricity at competitive prices.
It made a case for continuing reform to reduce the price differential between diesel and petrol.
On the agricultural front, it said that solar irrigation pump distribution target must be stepped up and financed through credit support from NABARD and government subsidy.
The option to connect irrigation pumps to feeder level small solar plants must be explored and, if found cost effective, should be exercised.
It suggested that the government should explore the prospects for switching over to electric cooking in areas where reliable supply of electricity already exists and must evaluate adoption of electric vehicles in the coming years.
It said that the efficiency of existing thermal plants should be raised through Renovation and Modernisation (R&M).
The document provides for phasing out the old plants with high station heat rate, especially when located in or near heavily populated regions.
It was also suggested that the new power projects to be initiated during the Action Agenda period, especially if located in or near heavily populated areas, should be on ultra- super critical technology which uses 20 per cent less coal per unit of electricity as compared to the subcritical plant.
On lower utilisation of plant capacity it said that in view of the currently declining Plant Load Factor (PLF) (60% in 2016-17), the government must ensure that fresh capacity augmentation beyond 2019-20 is scheduled as per demand for power and operational viability.
It called for expediting the JV Hydel projects in Bhutan and asked to complete the transmission corridor on the Indian side for evacuation of electricity.
It was suggested that the Small Hydro Power (SHP) target of 5000 MW by 2022 should be advanced to 2019-20 through VGF and tariff support, which will also aid balancing of variable solar energy in decentralised locations.