Soon half of India’s power from private sector: Power Minister

By Gyanendra Kumar Keshri, IANS,

New Delhi : Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has promised reform and an enabling policy environment that will ensure half of India’s electricity is generated and distributed by private players, complementing state-run utilities.

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“When I joined in 2006, the participation of private sector was juast 6 percent. Today, it is 29 percent. By the end of 12th plan, that is 2017, it will go up to 52 percent,” said Shinde, among ministers who retained portfolios in the recent reshuffle.

“We have targeted more than 100,000 megawatt of additional electricity capacity for the next five years. This time, we will reach the target.

“Work has already started for projects that will fetch almost 80,000 megawatt,” Shinde told IANS in an interview at his office in Shram Shakti Bhavan.

He said out of projects worth 80,000 megawatt capacity under construction, some 50,000 megawatt was being implemented by private developers such as Reliance Power, Adani Group and Tata Power.

The minister said the government has also awarded four ultra mega power projects to private players with an aggregate capacity of 16,000 megawatt worth some Rs.64,000 crore ($14.2 billion). Twelve more were to be awarded soon.

The minister admitted coal was a major problem and said he has already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on that. “Other policy initiatives and reforms are also being undertaken to make this sector attractive,” Shinde said.

“The prime minister has even constituted a group of ministers to look into the matter of coal. This group is under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee,” Shinde told IANS.

“I have requested for increasing coal production and supplies to power sector. I am hopeful all this will be done,” he said, adding only 10-15 percent of the coal requirement of power companies was being imported.

The minister said coal remained an important source of feedstock for electricity generating companies and that 65 percent of such energy was being produced by thermal power plants, despite some new gas finds.

Yet, thrust was also being given to clean energy, he said, adding the hydropower segment was now accounting for nearly 22 percent of India’s supplies and other forms of renewable energy sources some 11 percent and nuclear plants 2 percent.

“Taking all this into account the Planning Commission will set a formal target for the power sector sometime next month. But internally, we have set ourselves an informal target of 8.5-9 percent, so that work can progress.?

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at [email protected] and [email protected])