Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said he has asked the railway board to ensure savings of at least Rs 5,000 crore by 2019 on railways' energy bill of Rs 33,000 crore. As part of its energy-saving initiative, the ministry said it has increased efforts to source cheaper electricity through auction-based procurement and invest Rs 1,000 crore in setting up captive power plant in Bihar.
"Our target, for which I keep pressing my board colleagues, is to try and save nothing less than Rs 5,000 crore in 5 years," Prabhu told an audience comprising global rail sector companies and experts at the International Summit on Energy Efficient Technologies in Railways. He added that the target could be achieved by sourcing more power through competitive bidding route and setting up Indian Railways-owned Nabinagar power plant in Bihar.
Later, speaking at a separate media interaction in the same event, Railway Board's Member-Electrical Naveen Tandon announced the ministry would soon select the successful bidder for its plan to source 585 Mw power through competitive bidding. Indian Railways had last month signed an agreement with Adani Power for purchasing 50 Mw power at Rs 3.69 per unit under its new policy of competitive bidding-based procurement, dropping its earlier practice of sourcing electricity through distribution utilities.
Another rail ministry official who was present on the occasion said as many as 44 firms had responded to the ministry's request for qualification for the supply of 585 Mw power. Indian Railways spent Rs 13,000 crore on sourcing 17.5 billion units (BUs) of electricity – including 15 BUs for traction power — last fiscal in addition to Rs 20,000 crore expenditure on diesel for traction.
"The first 250 Megawatt unit of the Nabinagar power plant will be commissioned by the end of current fiscal. We have already invested Rs 5,000 crore in setting up the project and the rest Rs 1,000 crore would be invested in the next one year," Tandon said.
He added the project, when fully commissioned, would supply power to railways at economical rates. The rail ministry has also speeded up efforts to set up the second such captive plant at Adra in West Bengal.
Separately, in a tweet on Friday, Prabhu announced he had a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the proposal to seek additional assistance for the railways' safety fund. "Met Arun Jaitley for extra support for safety fund which we launch soon. As always, he's fully supportive. Safety, Capacity add&decongestion," Prabhu said in his tweet.
Speaking at the Energy Summit, Prabhu also called for bringing down energy demand and looking for "innovative financing models for funding energy efficiency initiatives". He said the ministry is working on comprehensive energy efficiency plan that will radically transform Indian Railways' energy landscape. He said the ministry is busy conducting energy audits of all the railway units and zones to set up baselines (benchmarks) for performance that will be compared with global energy efficiency standards.
Source- Business standard