Power Sector Reforms in India: Issues and Challenges
New Delhi, India, December 16, 2009
CUTS organised the 8th Parliamentarians? Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PARFORE) meeting in New Delhi, on December 16, 2009. PARFORE has been an initiative of CUTS to bring Members of Parliament (MPs), cutting across party lines, on a single platform to mull over the core economic policy issues that come up for discussion in and out of the Parliament.
Bharatsinh Solanki, Union Minister of State for Power opined that among others, open access and tariff rationalisation are the key issues in which states should take a lead following the guiding principles laid down under the Electricity Act 2003 as well as National Electricity Policy 2005. He further added that unbundling of utilities and unbarred open access are the keys to facilitate competition in power sector. He added that the Ministry of Power has been initiating various programmes such as the Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme and the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana to strengthen the distribution system and ensure power to all households in the country.
Highlighting the key challenges facing the power sector, Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International stated that because of poor policy initiatives, the country is not able to achieve capacity addition targets for the last couple of years. Sharad Joshi, MP, Rajya Sabha, while deliberating on the issue of power supply to the agriculture sector, stated that the present consumption pattern in agriculture is not sustainable.
In a presentation, highlighting the key outcomes of capacity building initiative RESA project undertaken by CUTS, it was mentioned that consumers at large are still not aware of electricity reform process. Most consumer complaints, especially in the rural areas, remain unattended. Though, consumer grievances redressal forums have been constituted at the corporate level of distribution utilities, independence and autonomy of these bodies is a major issue since they are effectively controlled by the utilities.
Several other MPs including Geeta Gouri, Member, Competition Commission of India; E M S Natchiappan; P J Kurien; P Rajeev; M B Rajesh; Shailendra Kumar; and Gireesh Sanghi, participated in the deliberation and expressed their views on further reforms in the power sector.