Shinde agrees with PM's stand on free power

Agreeing with PM's stand against free power, Shinde says he will talk to states for restructuring electricity boards.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 19:20 IST

Agreeing with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's stand against free power, newly-appointed Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said on Monday that he will talk to various states for restructuring electricity boards.

"I agree with the Prime Minister that free power should not be given... It has been our government's priority to help the poor and needy sections of society, but it should be keeping in view the financial health of states," he said after assuming office in New Delhi.

In a rare candid admission, the former Maharasthra Chief Minister also said the promise of free power given in 2004 state assembly polls was "part of our election strategy".

He, however, hastened to add that the state was already giving Rs 1,000 crore as subsidy and giving free power to farmers entailed an additional expenditure of Rs 300 crore. Besides, free power was conditional on completion of metering by all consumers and checking power theft, he added.

Asked about his views on restructuring of electricity boards, which some states have been resisting, he said, "it is necessary... Some states have already done it and I will talk to other state governments on this issue."

Shinde said as Maharashtra Chief Minister he had come to the Centre seeking more electricity for the state and it would be his endeavour to ensure that the government understands the problems of all states.

The 65-year-old minister was appointed to the Union Cabinet on Sunday. He was the Governor of Andhra Pradesh prior to his appointment and will have to get elected to Parliament within six months.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 15:40 IST