Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut
Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut

Notwithstanding the acute financial crunch, Energy Minister Dr Nitin Raut, on Friday, released a blueprint for the state energy sector. It focuses on strengthening the Mumbai islanding system, increasing embedded generation capacity and the upgradation of transmission and distribution to meet the city's rising demand. The state government also proposes capacity addition to gas-based power projects at Uran, increase in solar capacity and use of solar power for agriculture pumps and recovery of arrears of state-run distribution company MahaVitaran, which have shot up to Rs 59,000 crore.

Dr Raut was speaking to the Free Press Journal on the first anniversary of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government. “Energy is the engine of Maharashtra industrial progress. It is one of the key factors contributing to the growth of industry. With more and more investments coming into the state, it will be the government’s endeavour to provide adequate, reliable, uninterrupted power at competitive rates. While doing so, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is under the state government’s radar being the commercial and financial capital of the country,” he said.

Dr Raut admitted that the Mumbai Islanding System, developed by Tata Power in 1981, could not work during the recent power failure that took place on October 12 following rise in load. According to him, it will be upgraded considering demand and supply so that, in the event of power disruption, Mumbai’s power supply will not be affected. “Considering the growing demand for electricity by 2030, the government has set an ambitious target to make Mumbai and MMR self-sufficient in power generation. After the grid collapsed on October 12, it was decided to restructure the islanding system to keep Mumbai's power supply intact,” he noted.

“The power demand in MMR is expected to be 5,000 MW by 2030. With this in mind, it is planned to set up a 400 kV GIS substation at Vikhroli with the laying of a high voltage double current transmission line. It will help bring in additional 1,000 mw from outside into the city. Similar high voltage double current transmission is proposed, which will evacuate another 1,000 mw,” said Dr Raut.

The minister said the government has laid emphasis on increasing the solar generation capacity and, thereby, reducing dependence on coal-based generation. “It has also been decided to build solar power projects on waste land and vacant land of power companies. This apart, floating solar power projects will be set up in the reservoirs. The electricity generated from solar power projects will be distributed to tribal and backward areas,” he added.

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