The power ministry has been able to push clearances of projects worth Rs. 1.1 lakh crore in the past 11 months through the Prime Minister-headed Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI), Union power minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Thursday.
“CCI is an extremely robust and effective mechanism and we have pushed close to Rs. 1.1 lakh crore worth of projects through it ...most of these projects were stuck for want of some clearances,” Scindia told a news conference in New Delhi.
As many as 13 power projects were cleared by CCI in April 2013, freeing up stalled investments of around Rs. 33,000 crore. CCI, which was formed in January last year, cleared 18 power projects with investments of over Rs. 83,000 crore in August.
Asked to comment on the reduction of power tariffs in other states as has been done in Delhi by its chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Scindia said, “State governments are free to dole out subsidies and cut electricity tariffs but they need to ensure that the impact on distribution companies remains ‘revenue neutral’.”
Within days of his taking over as chief minister of Delhi, Kejriwal announced reduction in power tariffs by up to 50% for consumers using up to 400 units a month. Congress leaders in Mumbai Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt have demanded the same in Mumbai.
“It is the state government’s prerogative if it wants to subsidise certain group of customers on electricity tariff,” he said.
“Whatever is the price of power, if I decide to give subsidy to certain consumers, that is my prerogative as state government. No one can take that right away from me. But I must foot the bill for that. So, there should be transparency and accountability across the system,” Scindia added.
When asked about the Dabhol power project, he said, “It is of tremendous importance for us because restructuring has been done a couple of times and we have to see its efficacy in terms of production. The issue here is the issue of gas; all gas beyond 31 mmscmd (million standard cubic metres per day) will come to us.”
The Dabhol power project is not generating electricity because gas is unavailable.
Amendments to the Electricity Act and to the National Tariff Policy are two issues on which the power ministry will approach the cabinet in a month’s time, he said.