Amnesty report on Coal India baseless: Goyal

Union Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal has refuted the report by Amnesty International alleging human rights violation at Coal India. Goyal said that the report is completely baseless and is "floated by elements which do not want to see India's development and prosperity".

"I think it is a completely baseless report and I think it is floated by certain elements who cant see the development and prosperity of India and the need for India's poor to get affordable power and the need of India's people to get new job opportunities," he said, stating that the ministry has already issued its statement on this.

According to reports, the global NGO has alleged that the the land acquisition process for the coal mining operations has resulted in human rights violation on the people in some of the Indian States.

Speaking to reporters in Chennai, he also said that the central government is planning to strengthen the power transmission capacity from North to South India and has taken setting up of green corridors, to transmit renewable energy, is its mission.

While earlier the cost of power for South Indian states like Tamil Nadu was high, it has come on par with the price of North India now, because of the investments on transmission capacity.

"Two years ago, if a State like Tamil Nadu had to buy power for Rs 8-12 or some times Rs 14 per unit, particularly in the summer. I am delighted to announce that on most days now, power is available at the same price in Northern India, in South India also. Earlier days in Tamil Nadu, power was five times the cost of power availability in the exchange. Now we have almost brought it down to par," he said.

The government is focusing to further increase the transmission capacity to make it nearly three times more than what it is today, by 2020. "We will add 18,000 MW of transmission by 2020 against 3450 MW that I inherited in 2014, which is almost five times in six years," he added. The centre has added 71 per cent transmission capacity from the Northern and Eastern grids to South India, which along with other measures has made South India power surplus.

He added that the centre has cleared more than Rs 40,000 crore worth of green corridors and Tamil Nadu has also benefited from the green corridors. He said that he also had a discussion with the Karnataka government related to the problems faced in expanding the transmission network to South India and once the transmission capacity is expanded, Tamil Nadu can also sell their green power to other states.

It may be noted that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has recently requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite the works to set up the green corridor. The Chief Minister said that while Tamil Nadu has excess renewable energy capacity and has already met its Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO), the excess production in Tamil Nadu could be sold to some other State which require renewable energy to meet the RPO.

He once again requested Tamil Nadu to join the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) debt restructirng scheme for power distribution companies, for the benefit of the people in the State. When asked whether he think Tamil Nadu will join the scheme, he said, "I am always an optmist."

Goyal, who was also one of the first ministers to complain that the Government of Tamil Nadu, especially the Chief Minister of the state, is not accessible even to the central ministers, today met State Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The agenda for the meeting was not revealed and when asked, the minister said that it is just a courtesy call.

Earlier, he laid the foundation stone for the Centre for Battery Engineering and Electric Vehicles and Energy Saving Chilled Water Storage at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and launched a few green products, which could be used directly sourcing power from solar power equipment.

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