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Ajay Mathur, who heads the New Delhi-based The Energy and Research Institute, is set to become the next director general of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), with Mauritius withdrawing from the race, said two people aware of the development.

ISA, co-founded by India and France, is the first treaty-based international government organization to be based in India. The alliance has become a significant public policy tool for India and is considered a counter to China’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.

A special virtual assembly of ISA is scheduled for 15 February where Mathur’s name is slated to be approved and announced, with him taking charge from 15 March, said one of the two people cited above requesting anonymity. Mathur will replace Upendra Tripathy, a former secretary in India’s ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE).

Mint reported on 21 December about India through MNRE proposing Mathur’s candidature. The director-general has a four-year term, which can be renewed for an additional term.

“With Mauritius’ withdrawal, Ajay Mathur is the only person remaining for the top post. He is the right candidate for the job, given his exhaustive experience on the global stage and the technical expertise he possesses," said one of the two people mentioned above requesting anonymity.

Mathur is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and was earlier the director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Apart from working at the World Bank, Mathur was also president of Suzlon Energy Ltd.

“Ajay Mathur is the right person for this job," said an Indian government official, the second person cited above, who also did not want to be named.

Mathur did not comment. Queries emailed to the spokespersons of ISA and MNRE on late Thursday night remained unanswered. An external spokesperson for Teri also did not comment.

The ISA first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi forms an important part of India’s efforts at a global leadership role on tackling climate change. “We are already part of international groupings such as the G20 and BRICS. The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the International Solar Alliance are realities today due to India’s efforts," finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her recent budget speech.

India and France were re-elected as the president and co- president respectively of the ISA for a two-year term at its third assembly in October last year.

The ISA framework agreement was opened for signing up at the Conference of the Parties (COP-22) at Marrakesh in November 2016. As many as 90 countries have signed the framework agreement, while 73 have ratified it. Apart from working towards setting up a World Solar Bank (WSB), which is also expected to be headquartered in India, ISA is also the nodal agency for implementing India’s global electricity grid plan, One Sun One World One Grid, that seeks to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others.

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