Girish Sant, a pioneering analyst and advocate of pro-people, scientific policies in the power sector, passed away on February 2 in New Delhi, after a cardiac arrest. He was 46. On January 30, Business Line carried an article by him, titled Handling the energy crisis.
Girish Sant was a co-founder of Pune-based Prayas, and the coordinator of its Energy Group, which made significant contributions over two decades to policy advocacy in the electricity sector. His firm belief that professional skills should be used to address pressing social questions led him, along with his doctor and engineer friends, to start ‘Prayas' in 1994. He completed his B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Bombay in 1986, followed by his Masters in Energy Systems Engineering in 1988.
Some of his well-known contributions include a thorough critique of the Enron project; a critique of a similar project by Reliance and of some other independent power producers; and an examination of MSEB's (Maharashtra State Electricity Board) tariff policy. His insistence on transparent, participatory, and accountable regulation underlie these contributions. Girish contributed significantly to the campaign against the Enron project through his pioneering analysis of the Power Purchase Agreement between Enron and MSEB.
This was followed by other initiatives to protect public interest, especially against the private corporations in the power sector, through regulatory interventions. His work on Enron also laid the path for analysis-based policy advocacy in electricity and other sectors. He initiated serious debate on electricity policies through his analysis of the Sardar Sarovar Project; development of a least-cost, integrated resource plan (IRP) for Maharashtra; analysis of agricultural power consumption and subsidy; critique of the activities of multilateral development banks in the energy sector in India; preparation of several reports on the electricity regulatory processes; publication of a Citizen's Primer on Electricity ; participation in multi-country initiatives on electricity sector governance and pro-active interventions in Maharashtra and national regulatory processes; and capacity-building initiatives for civil society groups.
Later, he contributed to the national and international debate on energy policy and regulation, especially in the light of climate change. Some of his recent contributions include a significant expansion of the role of energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy for meeting India's energy needs. He represented India in several international fora; authored a range of scientific papers; won several awards, and was a member of various committees of government as well as civil society.
Recently, as a member of the climate experts group under BASIC countries, of the Planning Commission's Experts Committee on the Low Carbon Strategy for Inclusive Growth and the Twelfth Plan Steering Committee of Ministry of Non-Renewable Energy and Ministry of Power, he courageously and relentlessly championed the cause of the weaker sections of society.
(The authors are trustees, Prayas Trust.)
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