Pitching for an energy sufficient India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the country should cut oil imports by 10 per cent by 2022, while exhorting domestic firms to become global players and the well off to give up subsidised cooking gas connections.
Speaking at the first ‘Urja Sangam’ conference, he said plans are afoot to provide piped gas connection to 1 crore households in the next four years from 27 lakh presently.
Modi said if imports, which account for a staggering 77 per cent of the demand, are cut by 10 per cent by 2022, the country to look to halving it by 2030. India spent Rs 189,238 crore on import of crude oil in 2013-14.
He also said that Rs 100 crore in subsidy has been saved by 2.8 lakh people giving up the use of below market price LPG. “This money could be used for schools and providing medical facilities. I appeal to those who can buy LPG at market price, to please do not take subsidised LPG.”
Since the government started the new scheme of direct benefit transfer (DBT) for cooking gas, many more people have opted out of the subsidy scheme.
Modi said that 12 crore bank accounts opened under the Jan Dhan scheme are being used for transferring subsidies directly to the consumers which has helped in plugging the leakages and effectively fighting corruption.
“To fight corruption, if institutional mechanism, transparent mechanism, policy driven system can be put in place then we can prevent leakages. And this has been proved by cash transfer,” he said.
Modi also called upon the Indian energy companies to become multinationals and increase their presence in energy corridors in the middle east, central Asia and South Asia. They, he added, could also look to opportunities in North America and Africa.
On reducing energy imports, Modi said it should be done by 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of Independence.
“We can reduce this import by at least 10 per cent in 2022. This 10 per cent, we will produce ourselves and this should be our dream.
“If we become successful in reducing import by 10 per cent in 2022, by achieving 10 per cent growth in domestic production, then I can assure you that by 2030 we can reduce this import to 50 per cent,” he added.
Modi said the country needs to increase domestic output of energy to reduce dependence on imports.
“Our target has to be higher, only then we can reduce the import…for that we have to make effort,” he said, adding that the domestic energy companies should aim to become multinationals.
Most of the public and private companies are operating within the country and they need to look out and tap the energy market which is global, Modi said.
“These days energy diplomacy is a new area. In global relations energy diplomacy has become a requirement. The more our companies become multinational, the more we can increase our reach and space in this sector,” he added.
He also underlined the need to strengthen institutional mechanism to deal with future problems of the energy sector.
Modi said he hoped that the country’s young population and the government’s focus on skill development would help in dealing with the challenges in the energy sector.
Observing that 12 crore bank accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme were opened in 100 days, he said that this “Jan Dhan has become Jan Shakti” with the government transferring subsidy directly into these accounts.
Recalling initiatives taken by the government in the energy sector, he said diesel prices have been deregulated and 5-kg cylinder was launched for the benefit of poor as well as the students.
The government, Modi said, was also encouraging blending of ethanol with petrol as it would some relief to the sugar sector which is facing glut.
The farmers, he added, would be encouraged to use barren land to grow jathropha which is used in manufacturing biodiesel.