Power target may slip by 20% on bad roads

Power target may slip by 20% on bad roads

New Delhi: India could miss by 20%, or 13,855MW, its target of adding almost 70,000MW of power over the next four years because of poor transport infrastructure, according to at least two people familiar with the country’s power generation plans.

The slip will hurt the country’s ability to meet the power needs of one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

“India’s roads and ports are in a bad shape. Even if the equipment gets delivered at the ports, moving them to the project sites is a nightmare. We are already in the second year of the 11th Plan period (2007-12) and if nothing is done at the earliest, substantial generation capacity will be delayed," said a government official who did not wish to be identified.

India’s policy and economic planning is done five years at a time through the eponymous Five-year Plans. The country is currently in the second year of the 11th Plan.

Missing power generation targets isn’t new to India.

In the five years to 2007, the country missed its target of adding 41,110MW by 49%.

Currently, India has a power generation capacity of 143,000MW and it plans to add 78,577MW of generation capacity by 2012. Mint had reported on 28 August that India would achieve only 40-46% of this target. With the country adding only 9,300MW of generation capacity in 2007-08 against a target of 12,000MW, a capacity addition target of 69,277MW is to be achieved in the next four years.

K. Ravi Kumar, chairman and managing director of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, or Bhel, India’s largest manufacturer of power generation equipment, admits that India could miss this target by one-fifth.

“Around 20% of the remaining capacity will be delayed due to the problems faced in moving the equipment to the project sites. This capacity will be delayed by a year and may not come in the present Plan," he said.

Bhel has been drawing the attention of the power ministry to its poor infrastructure which is affecting the faster and timely deliveries of power generation equipment. “There are infrastructure inadequacies like good roads to project sites and delays in availability of road permits," Bhel said in a presentation made to the power ministry.

A case in point is NTPC Ltd’s Sipat power project turbine being stuck at Kasara Ghat on NH3 between Mumbai and Nashik for around six months because the road was not ready to take the load.

“The traditional gateways (into India) of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are already under infrastructural pressure, and the landside logistics from there on, especially for heavy machinery, is less than adequate," said a New Delhi-based executive of a company involved in the business of ocean transport, landside clearance and final delivery to project sites, who did not want either himself or his company to be identified.

“This infrastructure problem is in addition to funding, fuel and equipment shortage. As there will be a time lag in delivery, it will affect project implementation," said Anish De, chief executive officer at Mercados Asia, an energy consulting firm. Several power projects have also been hit by unavailability of fuel such as gas or coal.

Power shortages due to limited capacity and growing power theft have been identified as a significant bottleneck that threatens India’s ability to sustain the 9% per annum growth rate recorded in the past two years.