Power shortage woes worry Indian leader

New Delhi, March 21:

Expressing grave concern over electricity shortage in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday called for introspection by policy-makers and stakeholders on how best to address the situation.

“The fact that less than half of the capacity we have planned is, in fact, being created during the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-2007) is a matter of deep concern to us in the government as well as to the country at large,” he said.

“I sincerely hope all those who are involved in planning and in the execution of power sector will do some introspection as to what’s gone wrong and how to make up for the loss,” Manmohan Singh told an awards function for power units here.

“When a premier state like Maharashtra, day after day, month after month, faces the trauma of power shortages even during the days when children have to prepare for school, I think that’s a measure of gap in our performance,” he added.

According to the prime minister, while the installed capacity in the country was 130,000 megawatts, the accelerated economic growth had resulted in the demand far outstripping supplies. “We need to do much better if we have to ensure that electricity does not become a constraint on our economy. The sector must grow to meet the needs of industry and agriculture, urban and rural areas and households, farms and factories.” The prime minister also recalled the days when he used to visit the former Soviet Union and saw billboards saying: ‘Communism is sine qua non for electricity’.

“We do not need the Soviet Union, but certainly, if we have to make progress, social or economic, electricity and power is a prime requisite. That’s the measure of challenge in all states tackling the problem,” he added.

According to Manmohan Singh, just like generation, distribution of electricity was also a vital area for the commercial viability and development of the energy sector in the country.

“We have not paid adequate attention to this fact. Reforms in power distribution and pricing are a vital to the quest for energy security. High transmission and distribution losses and constant theft are unacceptable propositions.”