New Delhi: The Union power ministry is witnessing several high profile bureaucrat movements. Close on the heels of former finance and economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg taking charge on Friday as India’s new power secretary, Mrityunjay Kumar Narayan, secretary to Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief minister Yogi Adityanath is set to join the power ministry as a joint secretary.
A 1995 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from the UP cadre, Narayan is considered very close to Adityanath and is a B. Tech and M. Tech from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur.
“He is a very efficient officer. His papers are currently under process. The central government has written to the UP government for relieving him," said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.
Another person working with the UP state government, who also didn’t want to be named, confirmed the development.
Narayan comes to the power ministry at a time when the industry is reeling under bad loans worth about ₹1 trillion, with around 66 gigawatts (GW) facing various degrees of financial stress. He also assumes office at a time when a new power sector package is in the offing, comprising a new tariff policy and structural reforms.
Narayan didn’t respond to phone calls or to a text message from Mint.
Power secretary Garg on Friday outlined his agenda for the power sector and said he will focus on electricity distribution reforms, improving the finances of power sector, generation and questioning of the power purchase agreements (PPAs). Garg was busy taking review meetings on Saturday.
Kumar’s first posting was assistant magistrate and assistant collector of the Raebareli district in India’s most populous state. He has served as the chief development officer of Saharanpur, Sultanpur, Ballia and Azamgarh. He was the district magistrate of Chandouli and also the district magistrate and collector of Shahjahanpur, Sitapur, Ghaziabad, Agra and Saharanpur. Prior to joining Adityanath’s office as secretary in April 2017, Narayan was secretary in the state’s Public Works Department.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is looking to introduce several power sector reforms in the proposed national tariff policy, including penalty on gratuitous load-shedding, not allowing losses of more than 15% as a pass-through in tariff, and limiting cross-subsidies. The policy also proposes suspension of licence in case of non-availability of adequate power supply arrangements and imposition of penalty in case of disruptions in supply.
The power ministry has proposed a “power sector council" to address issues between the Union and state governments as part of its 100-day action plan for the second term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. Other proposals include separation of wire and power supply business and setting up a pan-India power distributor.
A power ministry spokesperson declined comment.
Garg, a 1983-batch IAS officer from the Rajasthan cadre, was removed as finance and economic affairs secretary and transferred to the power ministry as its top bureaucrat, in a major bureaucratic reshuffle late on Wednesday. The reshuffle also saw power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla headed to be the Union Home Secretary by being moved as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Ministry headed by Amit Shah.
Garg was replaced by department of investment and public asset management secretary Atanu Chakraborty, a 1985-batch Gujarat-cadre IAS officer. Two days after seeking early retirement from the IAS, Garg on Friday said his proposal for voluntary retirement was discussed with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on 18 July.
Garg formally applied for VRS on 24 July in the evening, and his application has gone to his parent state Rajasthan for further processing. He is expected to serve as India’s power secretary for the next three months of the notice period.
As part of its attempts to attract investments in the state, the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government has leveraged its new industrial policy and prepared a roadmap for attracting investors. Kumar played a key role in leveraging the policy attractions such as creating land banks, promoting country-specific industrial parks and helping set up private industrial parks. This has helped attract investors to the third largest economy of India that contributes 8.4% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The BJP-led central government has also been pushing for big ticket infrastructure projects in the state, such as the Rs30,000 crore Purvanchal Expressway aimed at providing road connectivity to eastern Uttar Pradesh. Industrial townships are being planned along the expressway to provide jobs for the youth and market access for farmers.
Investors have slowly started taking interest in the UP story, long considered to be a laggard state with a poor record in law and order record. The state has witnessed investor interest from countries such as Taiwan and Japan who want to set up manufacturing units.
Some of the large infrastructure projects planned in UP include: a greenfield airport in Jewar in Greater Noida with the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority notifying 3,000 hectares of land for it and new metro rail systems at Kanpur, Meerut, Agra, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, and Ghaziabad.