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

Power Sector ReformsSubscribe to Power Sector Reforms

Towards a People's Plan for Power Sector Reform

This paper presents a new approach to power sector reform, commencing with the objective of universal supply of electricity within 10 years, entitlement of specified quantities at low tariffs for poor households and agricultural pumpsets, and a novel way of restructuring the power structure in the states. Applying these principles and procedures to the power sector in Andhra Pradesh, the plan demonstrates that dependence on government subsidy can be done away with in five years.

Power Sector Reforms: If Wishes Were Horses

Comprehensive power sector reforms, particularly in the transmission and distribution segments, have been discussed at least since 1993 when a Committee of the National Development Council comprising six chief ministers was set up. Conferences of chief ministers/power ministers were held in 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001. However, in spite of the hardy ritual of conferences and resolutions without any seriousness of purpose - just to give the appearance of progress where there is in fact none - there is no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact the tunnel seems to get darker and longer each year.

Power Politics

Power sector policy in India appears to have locked itself into adverse arrangements at least twice in the recent period. The first was when agricultural consumption was de-metered and extensive subsidies were offered; the second when Independent Power Producer contracts with major fiscal implications were signed by the State Electricity Boards. A third set of circumstances, with the potential for equally powerful forms of institutional lock-in, appears to be in the making with the reproduction of the Orissa model on the national scale. This paper provides an analysis of the social and political context in which power sector reforms have taken place in India. While a state-led power sector has been responsible for substantial failures, is the design of the reformed sector well aimed at balancing efficiency and profit-making on the one hand and the public interest on the other? The discussion of the forces and actors that have shaped the reform processes is intended to contribute to an understanding of how the public interest can best be served in the ongoing effort to reshape the power sector.

Power Reform : Market Structures, the Key

Will bankrupt State Electricity Boards (SEBs) reform, if state governments are bribed to carry out such reform? The prime minister, the union power minister and 14 chief ministers who attended the special meeting convened by the central power ministry on March 3 would appear to think so. They have agreed to undertake power sector reform predicated on one-time settlement of the SEBs’ dues to central utilities, which stood at Rs 26,000 crore as of October 2000. This, of course, comes on top of the increased outlay for the Accelerated Power Development Programme announced by the finance minister as part of his budget for 2001-2002, under which the centre will fund state-level attempts at reform along the lines of a memorandum of understanding entered into between the centre and borrowing state governments. The model of reform, thus, is of the centre egging the states on to undertake structural reform of the SEBs and offering special central assistance as incentive. This model is unlikely to succeed. Central legislation to enable private distribution of power – as an independent economic activity rather than as a licensed operation on terms set by SEBs, as happens now – is likely to work better.

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