New Delhi: India will miss its target of adding 78,577MW of power generation capacity in the five years to March 2012 by almost a quarter because of shortage of fuels such as coal and gas to fire electricity plants, according to Union power secretary H.S. Brahma.

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The inability to meet the target could hurt India’s ability to meet rising demand for power. India has a power generation capacity of 150,000MW and it planned to add 78,577MW in the 11th Plan (2007-2012). Mint had reported in August 2007 that this target would likely be missed. By Brahma’s estimate, the shortfall would equal 23.64%.

At the current rate of progress, India will add 60,000 MW by 2012, Brahma said in an interview. “With effort we will reach 67,000-68,000MW. However, this will be the best capacity that will ever be added in a single Plan (period)... If government gives us gas, then we can touch 80,000MW."

This miss will further aggravate the current 12% peak-hour power shortage.

Missing power generation targets isn’t new to India. 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, only 19,000MW achieved. In the 10th Plan (2002-07), against a target of 41,000MW, only 21,000MW was added. Progress on the current Plan so far has been as bad with only 9,300MW of generation capacity added in 2007-08 against a target of 12,000MW. And only 3,500MW was added against the target of 11,000MW in 2008-09.

Expressing inability: Union power secretary H.S. Brahma. PIB.

Fuel supply issues are a common problem. A case in point is coal, which accounts for almost 70% of the power generated in India, and which has become a scarce commodity. Other reasons for missing the target include poor transport infrastructure, shortage of equipment.

“There is no denying the fact that coal shortage may be one of the key reasons for India being unable to meet the capacity addition targets," said Dipesh Dipu, principal consultant (mining) with audit and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“The convoluted policy framework in coal mining sector has resulted in inadequate private sector participation, project implementation and production enhancement," he added. “The coal producers also find themselves in a predicament in light of difficulty in demand forecasts and hence, may be tentative in investment decisions."