It turned out to be a power-packed budget for the energy sector as well as consumers, who can expect better and reliable power supplies going forward.
While presenting the Union budget for 2014-15, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday unveiled the government’s vision of providing 24x7 uninterrupted power supply to all homes.
Keeping a check on the country’s fiscal health, Jaitley also proposed an overhaul of petroleum subsidies while targeting them to the right beneficiaries, a move that could also see fuel price hikes.
Calling it a ‘high priority area’, Jaitley also allocated Rs 1,000 crore for various solar power schemes and extended a concessional basic customs duty of 5% for machinery and equipments required for setting up projects.
In order to provide a further boost to power generation, Jaitley decided to extend the 10-year tax holiday for the power sector by three years till March 31, 2017. The finance minister also announced significant steps to expand and strengthen India’s power transmission and distribution network.
Although Jaitley did not put any time frame towards providing this 24x7 power supply, he admitted that supply of power continues to be a major area of concern for the country and said that the government was “committed to providing 24x7 uninterrupted power supply to all homes”.
To achieve the same, Rs 500 crore has been allocated for the Deen Dayal Upadhyay rural electrification programme.
Proposing doubling of the country’s gas pipeline network by another 15,000 km, Jaitley said the enhanced gas grid will promote usage of gas both the domestic and imported sources.
He added that an exercise to rationalise coal linkages to optimise transport of coal and reduce cost of power is also underway.