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Ministry upset over power capacity lag

Long hours of power cut, erratic power supply to industries and deteriorating financials of state-owned beneficiaries have finally forced the power ministry to put its act together, reports Anupama Airy.

business Updated: Jul 13, 2009 21:07 IST
Anupama Airy

Long hours of power cut, erratic power supply to industries and deteriorating financials of state-owned beneficiaries have finally forced the power ministry to put its act together. The poor performance of the power sector has made Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde put in place a stringent monitoring mechanism in place for timely completion of the power projects in the country.

While review of the capacity addition programme of public sector undertakings is being done every 15 days, Shinde has called a meeting of the private power producers on Tuesday to take stock of the projects being implemented by them.

“Presently the ministry is concentrating on power projects that are scheduled to be commissioned during 2009-10. The theme of this meeting is to resolve the critical issues and bottlenecks which could come in the way of the timely commissioning of these projects,” said a power ministry official.

Even as the ministry in the last five years has shifted its entire focus towards power generation, the results of its capacity addition programme have been termed as “unimpressive” by the Prime Minister’s Office. Power ministry has targeted addition of 78,000 mw in the next four years, which the PMO had referred to as an “absurdly high target.”

Going by the first couple of years in the 11th plan (2007-12), only 15,000 mw have been added till June 2009 and Shinde plans to add some 5,800 mw in the first 100 days of the UPA government.

A comparison of power capacity addition between China and India reveals that as against China adding over one lakh mega watt of power capacity every single year, India has failed to add even 25,000 mw in a five year plan period.

According to ministry’s own findings, following its recent mission to China, that in the last five years China has been building 50 to 55 power plants each of about 2,000 mw every year. This means that around 1.0 to 1.5 lakh mw of power capacity was added every year, which also amounts to one power plant of 2,000 mw every week.

Compare this with the situation back home, India has not been able to even add 10,000 mw capacity in a single year so far. During 2008-09, the country’s power capacity was only 3,454 mw as against its target of 11,000 mw while in the year before (2007-08), a capacity addition of 9,263 mw was added against the target of 16,300 mw.