Expert group lists steps to bail out power sector

Expert group lists steps to bail out power sector

Taking note of the vast accumulated losses by the power sector in India, an expert group has recommended several measures, including adequate investment in transmission and distribution capacity infrastructure.

The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) has set up the ‘Bangalore Sustainable Development Group’ comprising subject experts from varied field, to come up with all-India based solutions for sustainable development.

With Teri organising the World Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi in October, it was decided to form the group in Bengaluru to highlight linkages among key areas of sustainable development by like-minded organisations, said Teri’s senior director P R Dasgupta.

In its second meeting held on August 27, experts felt that despite reforms from 1991 and the path breaking Electricity Act, 2003, the power sector had accumulated heavy losses, was short of funds to buy power and diverting state government funds from other activities. As a result, 30% of Indian households are without electricity even today.

Power distribution utilities in the country have accumulated losses of around Rs 3.8 lakh crore and their outstanding liabilities is around Rs 5.4 lakh crore.

One of the actions suggested is to approach a Constitutional body like the National Green Tribunal to reduce the gross depletion of groundwater as many states are giving free power to agriculture.

The experts felt that career professional managers are required to manage power distribution companies. It also recommended to sharply raise penalties for power theft. Other suggestions included, setting up of selection committees to select independent state electricity regulators; changing the culture of appointing retired officers as directors of discoms; setting standards for IP sets and development of smart grid technologies.

The group headed by Teri’s fellow emeritus Prof S L Rao meets on last Saturdays of every month. It will submit its recommendations to the government early next year, said Dasgupta.

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