When Power Secretary Anil Razdan says he is a die-hard optimist, one tends to believe him. After all, who else but an optimist would endorse a plan to add a whopping 78,000 Mw of capacity over the next five years.
That is almost four times higher than what India managed to add in the last five years, and a whopping 60 per cent of the country's overall installed capacity of 132,000 Mw. Razdan is in fact "open to any ideas that can make it happen faster", he tells Vandana Gombar Ayyagary in an interview.
Is 78,000 Mw a realistic target at all?
If we want self-sufficiency in power supply, then this is the amount of generation capacity that we will need. Our objective is to be shortage-free in 11th plan (2007-2012).
What is the strategy being adopted to achieve that?
Projects under construction total 49,175 Mw (50 per cent and 35 per cent central and state projected, respectively, and 15% private sector). We want placement of all orders to be completed by December 2007.
We are also advising companies to read order books of equipment suppliers so that they can assess the ability to supply.
We have begun changing project execution. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has appointed a nodal officer for each project under construction. Project implementation certainly needs to be tightened.
Was that the weak point in the last Plan? Who is to blame for the poor performance (about 50 per cent of the target) in the last Plan?
It is not a failing of the ministry of power, or the CEA or states. It is a collective failing. Each of us needs to improve. I don't think we need to blame. There is little point in criticising. I would rather look forward.
Where is the money going to come from (11th Plan working group on power has projected an investment requirement of $250 billion)?
Domestic institutions, Power Finance Corp, Rural Electrification Corp, budgetary support, state government and private investments.
Any policy changes required to attract the overseas investors?
They are welcome.
Isn't equipment supply a constraint?
We feel the shortage of manufacturing capacity. It will be worthwhile to increase (it), from an energy security point of view too. Meanwhile, we will opt for global competitive bidding to secure equipment.
So when do we start seeing a reduction in the power demand and supply gap?
The turnaround will be in 2011-12, when there will be an energy surplus (of 5.6 %) and a peaking surplus (of 0.7%).
Lastly, there have been some delays in the ultra mega power plants plan...?
There is no point in awarding contracts first and then waiting for land and environmental clearances.