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Business News/ News / India/  Centre eyes states’ support to tighten screws on China imports

Centre eyes states’ support to tighten screws on China imports

State govts will discuss ways to discourage use of Chinese tech in power projects at a virtual meet today
  • One agenda point of meet is ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to reduce imports in Power Sector’
  • Employees of a Chinese company inspect and sort solar panels into different quality categories. (Reuters)Premium
    Employees of a Chinese company inspect and sort solar panels into different quality categories. (Reuters)

    NEW DELHI : The central and state governments will discuss ways to discourage use of Chinese equipment and technology in power projects at a meeting on Friday, two people aware of the matter said.

    Curbing these imports is on the agenda of a virtual meeting of Union power minister R.K. Singh with state power and renewable energy ministers, the people said on condition of anonymity. The agenda point ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to reduce imports in Power Sector’ aims at enabling manufacturing of all power sector equipment in India over the next three years.

    Since power is on the concurrent list of the Constitution, New Delhi wants states to be a part of its playbook of erecting tariff and non-tariff barriers as part of a broad economic response to Chinese aggression in Ladakh.

    A Union power ministry spokesperson confirmed the development.

    “There are four broad agenda items for the state power ministers’ video conference," said a government official, one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity. The three other items are: the draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the 90,000 crore liquidity infusion in stressed power distribution companies (discoms); and the 3.5 trillion proposed distribution reform scheme—tentatively named Samarth—that will run until 31 March 2026.

    “Import of power sector equipment from a country posing threat to national security is a cause of concern as vulnerabilities in the power system and network mainly arise out of use of equipment designed, developed, manufactured and supplied with intent to commit malicious act in the form of cyber-attacks through embedded malware/Trojans or other cyber threats," the government document said.“Therefore, in order to protect the security, integrity and reliability of the strategically important power sector, which is critical for all other sectors of the economy, it is of utmost importance that our power systems and network have the security and reliability protocols of very high order and comparable with the world’s best," it added.

    India is working on a wider power sector decoupling from China, with New Delhi planning to tighten financing from state-owned public sector lenders—Power Finance Corp., Rural Electrification Corp. and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency—to states that don’t use Indian equipment and technology, Mint reported on 28 June. These three companies are the largest lenders to the Indian power sector.

    The ministry also plans to enforce a list of approved manufacturers for government-supported schemes in the clean energy sector, including projects from where electricity distribution companies procure electricity for supply to their consumers and wants states to follow suit. A similar approved list of modules and manufacturers is in the works for the conventional power sector as well.

    Apart from securing large orders in India’s clean energy space, large thermal power generation project contracts totalling round 48 gigawatts (GW) have been placed with Chinese manufacturers. Also, projects use supervisory control and data acquisition systems from China in electricity distribution space. The country has an installed power generation capacity of 370GW.

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    Utpal Bhaskar
    "Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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    Updated: 03 Jul 2020, 06:07 AM IST
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