Shri Sushilkumar Shinde’s speech, Union Minister of Power

Energy Conclave 2006, 26 July Inaugural Session
Respected Prime Minister Dr Manmaohan Singhji, Dr. Kirit Parikh ji, Shri R.V.Shahi, Dr. R.P.Singh,
Shri Rakesh Bakshi,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singhji for personal attention and leadership he is providing in the vital area of energy. A sound energy policy, and more importantly, its coordinated implementation is the key to the success of our economic development. This is particularly important as India aims to grow at 8 to 10 % per annum. In the 21st century, issues relating to energy are getting increasing focus of the international community.

Formulation of Integrated Energy Policy was one of the first tasks the Prime Minister initiated on assuming office. While the final report is now ready, on issues on which there was consensus, action has already been initiated. The decision of the Prime Minister to constitute the Energy Coordination Committee under his own Chairmanship has helped in timely decision making on a number of key issues.

In this regard, I congratulate the Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) for the timely organization of this Energy Conclave. I am confident that this laudable step by Dr. Mrs. Jyoti Parikh to bring together opinion makers, senior officials and experts of the energy sector for a brainstorming on ways to implement the energy policy will provide valuable inputs for our future course of action. I am keen that some solutions and suggestions should emerge from this conclave.

The provision of modern clean energy to all, for lighting, cooking and productive economic activities of the present industrial age at reasonable and affordable rates, is the key challenge in the energy sector. This is vital for achieving rapid economic growth at 8 to 10 % per annum which is essentially aimed at removal of poverty and employment generation especially in rural areas. I appreciate the articulation of this objective in the Integrated Energy Policy report.

According to the 2001 census approximately 57% of rural households did not have access to electricity the common minimum programme of our UPA government envisages provision of access to electricity for all households within five years. With the blessing and support of Srimati Sonia Ghandhiji, Chairperson of UPA and Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singhji, the ambitious Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidutikaran Yojana was launched in April 2005 to transform the vision of the NCMP into reality. I am glad to inform you that in 2005-06, target of electrifying 10,000 villages was completed. This year 40,000 villages would be electrified.

We need to seriously consider a programme, on the lines of the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidutikaran Yojana, to provide clean cooking fuel to all rural households in a time bound manner as envisaged in the Report.

The national Electricity Policy 2005 clearly states out the goal of making India free of energy as well as peaking shortages by the year 2012. It aims at creating of adequate spare capacity through a spinning reserve. While preparing and implementing the 11 Plan we must ensure the achievement of this objective.

The key to making power shortages a matter of history, in the short to medium term would be the speedy development of our coal mining reserves. Our coal is relatively clean and enables us to provide affordable electricity. NTPC’s weighted average tariff is about Rs 1.60 and has been increasing in nominal terms at rates, lower than the rate of inflation. The Indian Consumers have benefited form the good work done by our public sector and now from the regulatory regime that we have created.

In the field of energy, we need to be pragmatic and cautious on the approach of deregulated market determined prices. Until market mature in all segments, regulatory intervention appears inevitable in power, coal and petroleum fuel. I am happy that the report has recognized this need. We need to keep in mind that energy pricing in a transition phase has to be such that it allows our manufacturing to be competitive.

The development of hydro power with the optimal utilization of the potential of our river basins for flood control, irrigation and hydro power generation was a cherished dream of our Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru who lovingly called the Bhakhra Dam the "temple of modern India". This paved the wave for the green revolution which has transformed Punjab and Haryana into the granary of India.

Hydro power development received a new momentum with Rajivji’s confidence and dynamism, who in his tenure took personal interest in initiating the development of large hydro projects like the Naptha Jhakri Project of 1500 MW with s long tunnel in the Himalayas of 27 kms, and the Tehri Project of 1000MW with 260 meter high dam.

We now have the satisfaction of having finally overcome the difficult problems of geology and rehabilitation and resettlement related to large hydro projects. We completed the Naptha Jhakri project of 1500 MW in 2003-04. First unit of the Tehri Project of 1000MW has been commissioned and all the other three will be completed during this year. The Sardar Sarovar Project of 1450 MW, the Indira Sagar Project of 1000MW have also been completed. The Tala project of 1020 MW in neighbouring Bhutan would be completed this year. In this Plan we will add approximately 10000MW of hydro power capacity, more than the capacity added in any two plans in the past. We are improving capabilities in handling the difficult geology of the Himalayas and better project management. We can, with confidence, think of fully developing the feasible hydro potential of the country in coming years, an objective which has been well advocated in the Integrated Energy Policy Report. It is reassuring that now even the international community is beginning to recognize the need for supporting the development of hydro power, irrespective of size as a renewable source of energy. I am convinced that we need to concentrate on the huge hydro potential in the country in order to produce clean energy.

Energy efficiency and energy conservation are going to the key challenges in the energy sector in coming decades. I am glad to inform in this regard, my ministry has taken and is planning several significant initiatives.

At the end I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Kirit Parikh and the members of Committee for articulating a clear vision for India’s energy policy. Our next task obviously has to be to see how we implement various suggestions and recommendations.


Thank you.