In this Idea Exchange moderated by Deputy Editor Subhomoy Bhattacharjee, Union Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal says dialogue and Modi’s style of functioning can help resolve issues and bring together dissenting voices
Subhomoy Bhattacharjee: You have power, coal, renewable energy under your charge. You have NGOs saying that two of these should be out of business and one should be in business. What are your views on these sectors?
I am willing to engage in a dialogue with everyone. Today, there was a file with a comment that trade unions oppose this issue and I said, ‘no problem’. I wrote on the file, ‘please invite trade unions for a discussion’. So I am open to all viewpoints. I don’t have a misplaced notion that I know it all. I am clear that on these three subjects I am a novice; I am happy to learn from everybody. At the same time, there are certain things which never get highlighted. Take the case of the Uttarakhand flash flood tragedy. In a review meeting, the company that operates the Tehri dam explained to me how the Bhagirathi river, on which the dam stands, was able to stall a huge inflow of water, which otherwise would have flown down to Rishikesh and Haridwar. So had the dam not been there, the water coming down would have completely wiped out Rishikesh and Haridwar. This is something I didn’t know. So I asked them why they hadn’t educated people about this. All these years, we have only heard bad things about dams and hydro-power. They said, it is in public domain, and a lot of people have talked about it. I said, ‘when the tragedy happened, I was in the Opposition; I was looking at the events very carefully and yet, did not know about this’. Thus, there is always another dimension to such issues.
D K Singh: What do you do with colleagues like Uma Bharti who have been campaigning against dams?
We all have viewpoints. We met under her chairmanship to discuss water resources, environment and power related issues. We are working seamlessly across ministries. My three ministries are completely synergised. The three secretaries and I sit down and sort out issues and get things done in real time. Even across ministries, if I am sitting here and you flag an issue related to environment, I would pick up the phone, call up the minister concerned and sort it out. Or I will take an appointment to meet him. Uma Bharti met me and said that she wanted to discuss the Ganga plan. I went to her office with my secretary. It was a pleasant meeting. We were all on the same page. Who can deny that rivers should flow perennially? However, continued…