State Minister for Industry and Power Saurabh Patel on Saturday addressed students of PGPX, the one-year MBA programme, at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad on how Gujarat became “power surplus”.
Speaking about key strategic initiatives undertaken by the Gujarat government over the past decade, Patel said that in 2002, it was losing close to Rs 2,300 crore per annum in the power sector and the department sought to address this by executing a series of reforms.
Beginning from renegotiating power purchase agreements and in the process earned the distinction of being the first state to procure power through competitive bidding, Patel added that today this sector generates profits of Rs 550 crore per annum for the state. He said that despite Gujarat’s excess capacity, power-deficient states are unable to benefit as much because of some states’ inability to pay and poor transmission systems across the country.
Patel explained that how investments in a strong transmission network within the state and a clear and strong stand to prevent electricity theft in rural areas went a long way in ensuring access to power at market prices. These government actions resulted in about 18,000 villages having access to power 24 hours a day. The minister attributed a large part of the increase in the state’s GDP to these steps and said that today Gujarat holds an impressive share of close to 7% of India’s GDP.
Looking to the future, Patel emphasised the government’s political will and desire to work hard on partnering with businesses, increasing the representation of women in the workforce in rural sectors, investing in education, and on promoting manufacturing units in the state in the future.
Another area that the minister pointed out as being important was land acquisition. He stated that the GIDC has implemented an excellent land acquisition programme in the state that benefited landholders and also shared profits of the resale of land with them.