Despite political slogans like 'Power for All by 2012', India is still a long way from its target of lighting up every household. A majority of the population still does not get power and those who do, get it for less than 12 hours a day.
While the country's installed capacity is 130,000 megawatts, accelerated economic growth resulted in demand far outstripping supply.
The last three five-year plans saw a serious mismatch in power capacity addition targets. The three plans saw a capacity addition of just 30 to 40 per cent of what was planned. Both, the UPA and the NDA, failed badly on this front.
Talking specifically of the UPA tenure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on several occasions expressed deep concern over the shortage.
That does not stop our policy-makers from talking big - a huge target of adding 70,000 megawatts of capacity has been set for the 11th plan. Whether this will happen is anybody's guess.
“We will have the worst capacity generation this year - than three per cent. This is the lowest in the last 7 to 8 years,” said RV Shahi, power sector expert and former power secretary. “From 7.3 per cent in 2006-07, power capacity generation fell to 6.5 per cent in 2007-08 and to less than 3 per cent in the current year.”
Given the importance of the sector for the country’s economy, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in his interim budget decided to increase the budget outlay for the power sector in 2009-10 by over 43 per cent to Rs 52,126.27 crore. This he said may help tap electricity from clean sources.
The agenda for the next government in power is indeed to see that timely capacity addition targets are achieved.