The Union Power Minister, Mr Sushilkumar Shinde, on Tuesday said a sector like electricity cannot depend too much on imported fuel without exposing consumers to the vagaries of international pricing.

“Therefore, the focus in the 12th Plan has to be on increasing domestic coal production,’’ Mr Shinde said while addressing state power ministers in New Delhi.

India targets to add 88,425 MW of new generation capacities till 2017. This includes 5,300 MW from nuclear power. The stressed financial condition of state electricity distribution companies (Discoms) is a major concern for India.

“How can the benefit of huge generation capacity commissioned and under construction reach the consumers, if Discoms are unable to purchase electricity due to their financial stress?’’ Mr Shinde questioned.

Restructuring scheme

The Minister reiterated that the Ministry of Power has formulated a restructuring scheme for Discoms.

At the same time, the Government has sanctioned Rs 6,640 crore under Part A of R-APDRP projects to cover 1,402 towns. Under Part B of the scheme, nearly Rs 24,776 crore has been sanctioned for 1,086 towns.

Open Access

The Power Minister has also urged the states to operationalise the provision of Open Access as per the Electricity Act 2003.

“Open Access must necessarily be implemented by all states for consumers with a load of 1 MW and above,’’ Mr Shinde said.

The Ministry of Power has also created the National Electricity Fund (NEF) for state utilities to meet infrastructure requirements.

“NEF would provide interest subsidy ranging 3-7 per cent with an objective of initial investment of Rs 25,000 crore in the next two years in the distribution sector,’’ Mr Shinde said.

Siddhartha.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on July 17, 2012)
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