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

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Turnaround in Power?

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Are some signs of hope finally visible in the crippled power sector? The government at the centre has identified the key issues to be tackled, worked out an action plan that goes beyond issuing platitudes from the top and is actively invoking the involvement of the state governments, who are the real change agents in the power sector. In 2000-01, the supply of electricity fell short of the demand by 8 per cent (by 13 per cent during peak demand), according to official estimates. These demand figures, of course, are based on the per capita power consumption figure of 350 kWh, one of the lowest in the world. If all households were given power and all industry assured uninterrupted supply of quality power, the demand would simply shoot up. Therefore, the Planning Commission target for generation capacity additions by 2012 – 1,00,000 MW, equivalent to the total capacity created since independence – does not seem to be particularly unrealistic.

The fact is that the record over the last 10 years has been miserable in terms of creating fresh generation capacity. The achievement during the Eighth Plan period was 53 per cent of the target. In the Ninth Plan, which will conclude in three months’ time, the achievement is not expected to exceed 50 per cent of the target. The question is, how can the gigantic capacity additions that are estimated to be required to be realised in practice?

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