Interview | Chetan Prakash Jain CMD- CEL speaks to our Editor


Shri Chetan Prakash Jain IRPS (1995) presently Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor- DSIR & CSIR, Ministry of Science and Technology has taken over additional charge of Chairman and Managing Director of Central Electronics Limited, a pioneer PSU in field of Solar PV and Railway Safety Electronics.

This has boosted the morale all employees of CEL. Having achieved record turnover of Rs. 338 Crores in FY 2020-21, CEL now looks forward for getting mini-Ratna Status.

Shri Chetan Prakash Jain (CP Jain) speaks to the Editor of IndianBureaucracy- Saurabh Sinha (SS) about his journey, CEL and his plans for CEL.


SS | You have held various positions and posts. Please enlighten us about your journey so far?

CP Jain | After selection in IRPS I have worked with Railways on important positions and as Executive Director in Railway Board. Later on I worked as General Manager HR in RVNL. As you know, RVNL is a Schedule ‘A’ PSU of Ministry of Railways. I have executed important roles in HR, Administrative and Financial matters.

I was Director in DoPT, served as Member, Staff Selection Commission and as Member, Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board. Currently while serving as Joint Secretary & Financial Adviser in Department of Scientific & Industrial Research and CSIR, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India I have got the opportunity to serve as CMD of CEL which is a pioneer in the field of Solar PV.

 SS | What are the major areas of CEL’s working?

CP Jain | CEL is working in sectors like Defence Electronics, Solar Energy, Railway Signaling, Integrated Security and Surveillance Systems, which are high growth, government oriented sectors with good scope for PSU’s. In the past few years, we have, on the one hand, revamped the infrastructure, processes and organizational structure of the company on the other; we have reviewed and revised our Marketing as well as product development strategy to focus on development of innovative applications.

In the areas of Solar Energy, we have focused on our traditional strengths in Rural/ Remote area electrification as well as on development of new applications such as Architectural Use of Solar (Building Integrated Power Plants) and  a range of smart city applications including Solar Trees, Solar Shelters,  Solar Rickshaws, Centralized battery energy storages systems   etc.

We have achieved major growth in other business areas including railway signaling, Security & Surveillance systems as well as strategic electronics.  The company is working on a range of new products for the strategic sectors, in collaboration with various laboratories and institutions, under ‘Make in India’.

SS | CEL has been a pioneer in Solar PV. Please tell about the products explain in detail what was achieved by the company in the last one year?

CP Jain | CEL journey to success has been tough but thanks to the zeal and efforts of its employees and support from the ministry, the company started to turn around from the last seven years and now it has crossed the turnover of Rs. 338 Crores with good profit margin after taxes.

SS | There is an extensive focus on solar energy. How CEL is taking India ahead in renewable energy sector?


CP Jain | CEL is the pioneer in the area of the Solar Photovoltaics in the country. CEL has the distinction of manufacturing India’s first solar cell in 1977, India’s First solar module in 1978 and setting up India’s First solar plant in 1992. Since then, we have been executing various projects in the area of rural electrification, Solar Power Plants, Water Pumping Systems, Solar Mini Grid, Solar Power Packs,

In earlier years the company had focused on technology development, however, with the maturing of technologies and market, the focus of the company has shifted to development of applications to meet specific needs of our country and our markets.  We have also executed Rural Electrification projects, under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs of various PSU’s in far flung areas of the country like Ladakh, North Eastern States, Chattisgarh etc.  The company has executed various solar electrificationprojects at International borders for our forces. The company is taking the lead in the niche areas where many players are not available.

Recently we have designed & developed India’s first flexible crystalline solar panels especially for use on railway coach roofs. Architectural Solutions with Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) is another niche area where CEL has its footprints.

CEL has distinction of developing India’s first BIPV Power Plant way back in 2004. We have recently developed Solar Car Parking, Solar Railway Platform, SolarWarehouse, and Solar Bus Shelter, Solar Tree etc. which are innovative architectural interventions and can be very useful for Smart Cities.

SS | What is the scope of renewable energy in a fast developing nation like India and what are your future plans?

CP Jain | India’s has an ambitious target of India 100 GW of solar power by 2022 and is well on route to achieving this. We are amongst the top countries as far as solar installation is concerned and are soon likely to be in first or second spot.

The company’s traditional focus area has been remote/ rural area solar projects.  I believe that this is a critical area for the country, especially given the fact that almost 200 Million people in the country lack access to clean energy.  Solar, as a distributed source of energy, with its ease of installation, is ideally suited to meet this requirement.

We have, further, taken up MW size plants on RESCO as well as CAPEX models.  We are presently executing a 170MWp order for about 200 power plants in various locations and are quite bullish about future growth in this area.  We are also focusing on development of a range of innovative applications including Architectural use of solar PV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV)), smart city applications etc.

We are also working on the solar water pumping segment and also installing solar power plants in border areas.

 SS | What projects have you undertaken in the Railways?

CP Jain | CEL has been working with Indian Railways for many decades for supply of various signaling equipment as well as solar power plants.  In recent years, we have executed a range of projects for Indian Railways. Guwahati Railway station has a become the  First 100% Solar Powered  Railway Station in the North- East, the solar power plant at Guwahati Railway station was installed by CEL under CSR program of CONCOR. We have also executed another project for Indian Railways for 40 x 50 KWp solar power plants on the roof tops of various railway buildings across the country.

Recently, we have developed & manufactured flexible crystalline solar modules for the first time in the country, especially for use on train roofs.  With this, we were able to reduce the weight and size of the power plant on train roof resulting in huge reduction in drag caused.  We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Railways for development of systems for meeting specific requirements of Indian Railways.

Under this, we are also solarizing one train, under an IRFC funded project, with a view to evaluating performance of different technologies for such applications with a view to optimizing performance of solar power plants on train roofs.  We have also developed BIPV solutions for railway platforms and have already solarized Sahibabad railway platform.  Railway has a very ambitious solar power plan and we are making all efforts to support the same.

 SS | And what is your vision for the company, going forward?

 CP Jain | The company is operating in some very strong business segments, with unique strengths as well as long associations with various R&D institutions including CSIR as well as DRDO labs.  It has also been a reliable supplier of high quality and custom built solutions for a range of customers including Railways, Defence, PSUs, and State Nodal Agencies etc.  We have a number of technology acquisition projects in advanced stages. We are looking to leverage this to expand our product base as well as volumes and are targeting to cross Rs. 1000Cr top line mark in the next two years and to become a major player in segments we operate in. I believe this has become a doable target with the revamp of infrastructure & manpower and financial revival of the company.

Indian Bureaucracy Dot Com wishes Shri Chetan Prakash Jain the very best.

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