Ahluwalia warns against shutting out nuclear option

Ahluwalia warns against shutting out nuclear option

He was delivering the ‘V Sankar Aiyar Memorial Lecture’ at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, organised in honour of the late renowned chartered accountant V Sankar Aiyar.

“We have to harvest all possible ways to add to India’s energy supply,” because the country’s demand for electricity would far exceed supply with the 12th Plan Approach Paper having targeted a 9 per cent GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate annually starting 2012.

 “It is a complex issue,” he acknowledged. However, he urged a phased handling of the problem, as four ‘big challenges’ that will have to be addressed head-on in the coming years are increasing agriculture productivity, considerable step-up in power generation, augmenting water availability and delivering decent urban services as the share of India’s urban population is expected to go up from 380 million now to 600 million in 20 years.  

He also stated that he was eagerly looking to interact with all the State Chief Ministers at the NDC meeting in Delhi this week-end, where the 12th Five Year Plan Approach Paper will be discussed. Montek said augmenting all sources of energy (including nuclear power) was also critical in the wake of rising crude oil prices.

He stressed that a ‘business-as-usual’ approach would not do. “We have to be able to absorb the higher energy prices, but our State Electricity Boards have not raised the tariff rates for ten years now.”

Montek said while higher GDP growth rate was imperative for a more inclusive growth, which meant bringing people from all stratas of society into higher income generating activities, India should not turn ‘complacent’ about its current 8.50 per cent rate of GDP growth.

Hoping that India ’s political class would come to  understand “what we need to do in these areas,” Montek decried tendencies to interpret the on-going Wall Street protests by the youth in the U.S. and elsewhere as a failure of the market economy. “It will be a great mistake” to conclude that market mechanisms have failed, he argued.

Admitting that there was a “churning” going on in the West, with the greed of the financial sector exposed, Montek said that on the contrary, the growth of developing economies like India “has remained high”. The apparent ‘loss of faith’ in the advanced economies only shows “how competitive we are,” countered the Plan panel’s Deputy Chief. The push for both rapid and inclusive growth will be the 12th Plan’s hallmark, he added.

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