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Power”less” sector & issue of clearances

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The power sector is one of the most critical components of our economy and nation building and also a huge contributor to the GDP growth. As a nation, if we want to achieve 8-10% GDP growth – the importance of a robust, efficient and functional power sector is very crucial.

However, in the current state of affairs in the country given the governance or lack of it, political will to help develop a robust and efficient power sector seems to be touching new depths by the day.

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Issues of clearances and approvals in our system become one of the biggest obstacles to growth and the interpretations of these for setting up a power project anywhere in the country is taking its toll on them.

Irrespective of the type of fuel being used for setting up a power project – coal; LNG, nuclear, hydro or non-convention like solar & wind; project developers be it State or private are up against a huge wall. Be it government; civil society or administration – there is no respite for any developer wanting to set up a power project.

When a project developer has received all the statutory and mandatory approvals from the government agencies – State & Central as stipulated by the Ministry of Power and then decides to set up a project – the obstacles and issues start. Right from identification of land and its acquisition thereafter is fraught with some myriad of issues that start at the village level right up to the State and Center – even if the land is government land. Compensation; Relocation & Rehabilitation don’t find enough support despite it following the rule of the land and in accordance to the stipulations issued by the government agencies.

The recent observation of Justices H L Dutta and Ranjan Gogoi sums up the mood in the country on power projects. “The moment a power project is to start, litigation is filed in court. If initially the project cost is Rs 1000 crore, it escalated to Rs 10,000 crore over the years and tax-payers money is wasted.  They also went on to add: “People don’t want a hydro-electric plant or a nuclear power plant, but everybody wants bijli.”

In the power sector where chaos seems to be rule with no redressal body for the power developers to go and knock doors seeking a solution to their problems especially when large sums of money – upwards of Rs 75000-100000 crore of public funds; we are running into a “darker” side of “power” in the truest sense.

We are also moving to a situation where Governments will start declaring Four Hours of Scheduled Power Supply instead of Four Hours of Scheduled Power Cuts; if the government, civil society with its green or other social activists and the administration don’t pay heed to the huge mess they have created in the process.

With administration not offering support | succor of any sort; political will lacking in any case whether it’s do with clearances & approvals of setting up power plants; the highly fragmented and distorted tariff structure and civil society in the garb of pollution, land & labour loss or compensation continue to push the country into a darker and irreversible path – we are running the risk of moving back to stone age.

The multiplicity of stakeholders and need for creating a situation where we agree to disagree on some issues and looking for partnership and willingness to work out amicable solutions instead of pleasing everyone – in my view is the only way forward.

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Written by schelluri

March 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

No one wants power plants, but everyone wants bijli: SC

with 4 comments

Written by schelluri

March 12, 2013 at 5:51 pm