ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Power Reform Stalled Again

THE long-delayed policy and institutional changes in the power sector sought to be introduced through the ordinance promulgated on April 25 providing, among other things, for the setting up of a Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and slate-level regulatory commissions are, it appears, likely to be aborted once again, at least for the time being. Because of lack of agreement among members of the ruling BJP-led coalition as well as reservations expressed by some state governments, the proposed bill to replace the ordinance may not finally be brought before the budget session of parliament after all. The central power minister, R Kumaramangalam, had justified his recourse to the issue of an ordinance on the ground that waiting for a bill to be passed by parliament would hold up the setting up of the central and state regulatory commissions by nine months. While the reforms in the power sector arc urgently needed and the bill on the subject introduced by the United Front government had been stalled, precisely this experience should have cautioned Kumaramangalam that his attempt to rush the pace through an ordinance was likely to reinforce the suspicions of the opponents of the proposed changes. Proceeding through consultation and discussion among the members of the ruling coalition as well as with opposition parties and state governments might have been the more effective course one which, it is becoming increasingly clear, cannot in any case now be avoided.

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