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Rediff.com  » Business » N-deal: India open for business, says Shinde

N-deal: India open for business, says Shinde

October 16, 2008 19:31 IST

With the completion of the US-India civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, India's Minister for Power Sushil Kumar Shinde has said that India is open for business and American companies can avail themselves of the opportunities by contacting the Indian embassy or the consulates across the country for the necessary guidance.

In the interaction that followed his delivering the keynote address at the inaugural 'Green India' Summit organised by the US-India Business Council in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry, Shinde said, "I don't think you have to go from one table to another table."

He said American companies can go to the embassy, go the consulates, "and you will be directed and they will be in touch with the power ministry and we welcome this."

Shinde whose visit to the United States was specifically to address the Summit, which featured private sector heavyweights from Dow Chemical, General Electric, Western Solutions -- all 'blue-chip' companies associated with clean technologies and renewable energy including civil nuclear power, said, "I have already been in discussion with some of the companies as far as nuclear power is concerned."

He also tried to alleviate the concern over distribution and transmission where US companies have complained that the subsidies and losses ramped up by the state electricity boards makes investment in the power sector unfeasible, saying, following a new law coming into force after the 2003 Act, "There has been greater clarity and the losses, we are trying to bring it down and today our losses have come from 40 per cent to 15 per cent in some places."

Earlier, in his speech, Shinde said that "nuclear energy, which currently accounts for less than 3 per cent of the domestic capacity, will constitute an important component of India's energy mix in the future."

"We have made significant advances in our domestic three-stage nuclear programme," the power minister said, and predicted that "the historic India-US civil nuclear initiative, which has enabled India to resume nuclear commerce with the United States and other countries, will give a major boost to India's nuclear energy programme and, therefore, our ability to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel."

Shinde said, "Through international cooperation and domestic development, nuclear energy could meet us much as 20 per cent of the energy demand in 2050, adding potentially tens of thousands of megawatts of nuclear energy capacity in the country."

"We hope the signing of the agreements with the United States last week, and earlier with France, will pave the way for early commencement of commercial agreements."

On the issue of the US and the developed countries pressing India and other developing nations to take up carbon capture storage schemes, Shinde said it not going to be acceptable at such an early stage of development.

"We are willing to participate in any research and development on carbon capture storage, but unless the commercial viability on the technology is fully established and its safety features amply proved, it would just not be appropriate for India to take up such a project even at the demonstration level," he said.

Shinde said that there was another important factor that could not be overlooked and that carbon capture storage would double the cost of generation and hence, "that would definitely be difficult to accept for developing nations."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC