Power Minister highlights sector reforms, challenges at CII Annual Session
New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Centre on Thursday said that significant improvements have been made in the power sector, and efforts made to address the viability concerns faced by power distribution companies (discoms) and the broader industry issues.
Speaking at the CII Annual Session 2023 being held here, Raj Kumar Singh, the Union Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy stated, "We have taken on challenges that would have deterred you, one of them being viability. We have effectively taken care of this issue by not only addressing current dues but also clearing legacy dues. Current dues are being paid promptly, ensuring the viability problems have been tackled."
He went on to highlight the transformative measures undertaken in the sector, resulting in a significant reduction in discom losses from 22 per cent to 17 per cent. Furthermore, Singh revealed the government's ambitious plan to further bring down losses to less than 15 per cent by the next year, demonstrating a commitment to achieving greater efficiency and financial stability within the power sector.
Addressing the issue of politicization in the power sector over the years, Singh expressed concern over "short-sighted politicians who promise free electricity to gain votes". He emphasized that there is no such thing as free power, as it ultimately burdens taxpayers who pay the bill.
He said the practice of offering freebies and free power increases the vulnerability of the sector.
Singh stressed the importance of timely payments, as failure to do so not only affects power supply but also puts pressure on coal supplies, illustrating the challenges inherent in a democratic system.
The minister, however, assured investors that the power sector is now a favourable investment opportunity. He highlighted that several firms which faced financial difficulties and underwent insolvency proceedings in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) have seen positive outcomes.
He also expressed India's commitment to both thermal and hydro capacity expansion, despite calls to reduce fossil fuel usage following the Russia-Ukraine war and disruptions in the global supply chain. Singh emphasized the need to provide energy in a safe and clean manner, in line with global demands.