Power ministry objects to article on achievements, IndiaSpend stands by its conclusions

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) The power ministry has disagreed with a Fact Checker article authored by Manoj K carried by IANS under the title “Power ministry: series of false claims, marginal improvements” on July 24.

Fact Checker is part of IndiaSpend, which calls itself a public-interest journalism platform, basing its story on data.

“The story” by Fact Checker, says the ministry in a note, “presents several distorted and incorrect facts to the reading public , which have been incorporated in the story without verifying it from officers of the ministries of power, coal and new and renewable energy.”

IndiaSpend says “it has not done anything wrong.”

Following is the ministry comments about the story and IndiaSpend (FactChecker) response.

Power ministry: The Fact Checker article tries to do a fact check on the performance of power, coal and new & renewable energy ministries but fails to pay heed to the cautionary call of “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Instead of checking facts, the article delves into semantics and makes glaring mistakes even where it tries to quote facts. A systematic record correction is called for:

1. Highest-ever growth in Power Generation Capacity.

Power ministry: 22,566 MW of power generation capacity is the highest-ever growth in power generation capacity in a single year. Unable to counter this basic fact, the article tries to divert attention to “comparable” but lower growth in other years and then tries to change the definition of the parameter from growth in capacity to “growth in growth” in capacity. As they say, when you can’t ’core a goal, move the goal post.

Manoj K (FactChecker): We have not contested the figure of 22,566 MW in 2014-15 as being the highest capacity addition. What we did contest was that it was the “highest ever growth in a single year”, as the ministry’s own tweet claims. The highest-ever growth year-on-year in capacity addition occurred in 2011-12, as the ministry’s own data shows

2. First time in Indian history, a trillion units produced

Power ministry: Again, the above fact is absolutely correct. The growth in power generation was 8.4 percent in the last year which was also the highest number in the last 20 years. So in both absolute and percentage growth terms, records were set. The fact that both the above numbers are mentioned in the report card, but the growth number has been omitted and twisted in the article, shows the extent of cherry picking and misrepresentation in the so called fact-check.

Manoj K: Nowhere have we contested that these one trillion units were generated. We only said, very clearly, this was a marginal improvement, 3.39 percent, over the previous year. We have not referred to the figure of 8.4 percent increase in power generation at all.

3. Lowest ever power deficit

Power ministry: Once again, nobody can find any error in the fact that last year’s power deficit of 3.6 percent was the lowest ever. The fact check again descends into an opinion check by not disputing the central fact but by opining on the comparison vs previous years (where also there was a 15 percent reduction vs the last year – 3.6 vs 4.2)

Manoj K: We have not contested that the 3.6 percent deficit was the lowest ever. We have clearly pointed out that this was part of declining trend, with a marginal improvement over the previous year.

4. Significant increase in wind and small hydro capacity

Power ministry: In both wind and small hydro (as well as in overall renewable generation), actual capacity addition was higher than the target last year. Significance of last year’s performance can be gauged from the fact that this was also the first time ever that renewable capacity addition targets were exceeded in all three – solar, wind as well as small hydro. Again, nowhere there is a claim that this was the highest ever capacity addition in wind or small hydro (in solar it was), but the facts again never deter the fact checker.

Manoj K: We disputed only one fact: that this was a “significant increase” in capacity addition of wind and small hydro projects, which it is not. We have made no reference to targets or actual capacity. The ministry’s own data show that greater capacities were added in 2010-11 and 2011-12 (wind) and 2011-12 (small hydro). The ministry focuses only on capacity addition over the previous year, which is exactly our point.

5. Four year record in coal output

Power ministry: The article says “coal production of 494 MT in 2014-15 is less than the coal production during each of the previous five years”. This is the most egregious “fact check” where perhaps out of frustration at not having been able to prove a single fact wrong, wrong facts are being presented. The article confuses the output of Coal India Ltd. (CIL) with the output of the coal industry and comes out with absurd conclusions. The facts are as follows: India’s coal production grew at 8.3 percent last year, the highest growth in 23 years. CIL production itself grew by 32 million tonnes which was higher than its aggregate production tonnage growth in the previous four years.

Manoj K: We did not confuse Coal India Ltd (CIL) production with the coal industry’s production. It is the ministry that appears to have done so. The graphic put out by the ministry (above) makes no mention that “coal production” refers only to Coal India Ltd (CIL).

The government adds: As can be seen above, the ministries of power, coal and new & renewable energy have systematically worked towards many record breaking achievements and launched several foundational initiatives towards “realizing Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji’s vision of 24×7 affordable power for all.”

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