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Capacity addition tops new power minister’s agenda

Capacity addition tops new power minister’s agenda
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First Published: Tue, Apr 08 2008. 11 20 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Apr 08 2008. 11 20 PM IST
A day after taking over as minister of state for power, Jairam Ramesh blamed the previous administrative set-ups at the power ministry for the abysmal performance of the sector.
“The biggest task ahead of us is to reverse the trend of over-promising and under-delivering. It is absolutely shocking,” Ramesh, who is also the minister of state for commerce, said. “The single biggest challenge before us is how to ensure that we make a departure from the past.”
The minister’s criticism is not unfounded. In the Eighth Plan period (1992-97), a generation capacity addition target of 31,000MW was set, but only 16,000MW was achieved. In the Ninth Plan (1997-2002), against a target of 40,000MW, the actual achievement was 19,000MW. While in the 10th Plan (2002-07), against a target of 41,000 MW, actual achievement was only 21,000MW.
The country added only 9,300MW of generation capacity in 2007-08 against a target of 12,000MW.
“In the 11th Plan period (2007-12), we have painted even a rosier dream of adding 78,577MW. This is a very, very tall order. We need to have systems in place so that the target of 11,000MW in 2008-09 is met,” Ramesh said. The targets for the remaining years of the Plan are: 18,000MW in 2009-10, 17,000MW in 2010-11 and 24,000MW in 2011-12.
The minister also said that the finance ministry has cleared a Rs50,000 crore proposal for the new Accelerated Power Development Reforms Programme, which would be sent to the cabinet for approval.
Ramesh also expressed dissatisfaction over the delays in confirming the appointments at public sector undertakings and the regulator.
“Somebody should take the blame. If 11,000MW is not achieved in the current year, I should hang my head in shame and resign,” he said.
Ordinance on forward contracts lapses
New Delhi:The Forward Contracts (Regulation) Ordinance 2008, which provides for the regulation of commodity futures markets in India through the Forward Markets Commission (FMC), lapsed on Tuesday.
This was because the Ordinance, which was promulgated in December 2007, was not passed by the Parliament. An Ordinance has to be ratified by the Parliament within six months of its promulgation or six weeks from the date of commencement of the Parliament. Sangeeta Singh
FutureGen: India wants its contribution back
New Delhi:With growing differences between the US and India on the technology transfer of intellectual property rights for the $2 billion (Rs8,000 crore) FutureGen project, India is ready to severe its ties from the project and is exploring ways to get back the $10 million already invested by its companies.
“This money was put in by government owned companies such as NTPC Ltd and Power Finance Corp. We are now exploring various ways and means to get this money back. Preliminary meetings have been held with these companies for the same,” a power ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
FutureGen project is aimed at setting up a zero-emission thermal power plant.
‘Mint’ had reported on 7 March that India was considering pulling out of the project after FutureGen announced a restructuring of the objectives and the financing plan.
Nearly 74% of FutureGen’s cost, which has more than doubled from the initial estimate of $850 million in 2003, was to be borne by the US and other participating governments, and the balance was to be absorbed by a group of private companies, called the FutureGen Alliance. Utpal Bhaskar
EC too bears the brunt of rising prices
Kolkata: Price rise is not the concern of the common man alone—inflation has hit the Election Commission as well. The forthcoming panchayat poll in West Bengal is going to cost West Bengal State Election Commission (WBSEC) upwards of Rs88crore, at least Rs30crore more than what it spent in 2003. That’s the official estimate as of now, but WBSEC officials say the actual cost is going to exceed the budget. “Just as inflation has hit every household in this country, we too are bearing the brunt of rising prices,” said Jayanta Dutta Gupta, joint secretary of WBSEC.
With 36.87 million voters, the election in 17 districts of Bengal (except Darjeeling) is going to take place in three phases between 11 and 18 May for as many as 51,059 seats.
“When you have so many seats, it’s just not feasible to use EVMs (electronic voting machines),” said Dutta Gupta, and because the state will be voting in the old style, it’s facing a 50% increase in costs over 2003. Everything—from paper to ink to bags in which ballot papers are collected—is now more expensive, a WBSEC official said.
The commission has found that a large number of ballot boxes, which have not been used in the last five years, are “not safe for voting”, according to WBSEC secretary Sudhin Roy Chowdhury. This means WBSEC will have bring some 30,000 ballot boxes from neighbouring states. “We’ll have to bring in some 100 truckloads of ballot boxes from Jharkhand and Orissa, and this is going to cost us dearly,” said Roy Chowdhury. Aveek Datta
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First Published: Tue, Apr 08 2008. 11 20 PM IST