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Manmohan calls for power sector reforms

Tuesday 29 May 2007, by MEHDUDIA*Sujay

`Business as usual’ approach will not suffice

Need for open access and competition "Slippages could derail economic growth"

NEW DELHI: Warning that continued slippages in the power sector could derail the rising economic growth rate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday stressed the need for widespread reforms including curbing theft, launching an aggressive programme for capacity addition, attracting private investment and reducing transmission and distribution losses.

Pointing out that inter-State transmission needed to be truly opened up to competition and a separate and independent government entity set up to control the National Load Despatch Centre, the Prime Minister said there were still some areas of the economy that were cause for "serious" concern.

"If one sits back and analyses areas which can be potential bottlenecks in our attempts to achieve rapid growth and get rid of chronic poverty, one can easily identify availability of power as one of the key areas of concern. The others are revitalisation of agriculture and availability of skilled manpower," he said inaugurating the Conference of Chief Ministers on the Power Sector here.

Advocating the need for wide-ranging power reforms, Dr. Singh stressed the need for open access and competition.

He laid emphasis on the role of States and the Centre in the reform process.

The Prime Minister called for a setting up a "National Mission on Conservation of Energy."

He urged all Chief Ministers to reduce transmission and distribution losses to acceptable levels.

The Centre would support the initiative through a revised Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP). By this "we will reward performing States by converting loans into grants in an appropriate manner on achieving certain benchmark results.’’

Emphasising the need to achieve the goal of "Power for all by 2012," he said: "The targets are no doubt ambitious, and a `business as usual’ approach will not suffice. We need specialised project management and monitoring capabilities to ensure timely commissioning of projects."

Among those present were Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Santosh Mohan Deb.

Earlier, Mr. Shinde said the meeting had been convened to address various issues which were critical to achieving ``power for all’’ and providing adequate electricity for various economic activities.

See online : The Hindu

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