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Indian Power Sector has Grown Leaps and Bounds Since Independence Interview with ABL Srivastava, CMD, NHPC Limited

What is the overall scenario of power sector in India?
The total installed capacity of India is about 182 GW with the share of thermal, hydro, nuclear and renewables being 65%, 21%, 3% and 11% respectively. The likely capacity addition target during XI Plan (2007-12) period would be about 8000 MW through hydro, 50,000 MW through thermal and 3400 MW through nuclear sources taking the total installed capacity at the end of the plan to about 1,90, 000 MW. NHPC which is a premier power sector company of the country has so far added about 5300 MW and is expected to add about 500 MW more by the end of the plan period.

The energy supply position in the country has improved during the year which is evident from the fact that the energy deficit which remained at 10% in the past months is now at 6% for the half year ending September 2011.  The peaking deficit however, still hovers at around 13% which shows that the peaking power situation has not improved in our country. Therefore, the country needs some peaking power stations in the form of hydro power projects, pumped storage schemes etc in order to bridge this gap.

How do you view the Indian power sector’s significant progress since independence? 
Indian power sector has grown leaps and bounds since independence. The power generation which stood at a meager 1300 MW in 1947 now stands at over 1,80,000 MW. This manifold increase in the installed capacity is a significant development for the country, as this is amongst the most important infrastructure sectors in shaping the growth and trajectory of our economy. Thermal power has lion’s share in the present installed capacity, however, with growing awareness and public concerns regarding global warming and environmental factors are driving the future growth towards environmentally friendly and cleaner alternative sources of energy to reduce our carbon footprint. The development of our country’s vast hydropower resources would not only help in providing the much-needed power but also fulfill the objectives of energy security.

Where does Indian power sector stand compared to international power sector?
The per capita consumption of electricity is one of the indicators of prosperity and living standards and has a major bearing on the economy of the country.  The per capita consumption of electricity of India stands at about 800 KWH as compared to world average of about 2500 KWH. In this era of globalization and increased competition, electricity plays a key role in developing competitiveness and reliability of trade and industry. 

What are the major constraints for growth in this sector?
As far as hydro power development is concerned, most of the hydro potential in our country is spread in the Himalayan regions which are fraught with difficult logistics, poor roads & communication infrastructure. The inherent problems of hydro sector include long time taken for obtaining environment & forest clearances, land acquisition problems, R&R issues, law and order problems etc., together with other challenges like remoteness of sites, accessibility constraints, heavy rainfall, geological surprises, power evacuation, dearth of trained manpower & executing agencies, additional demands by the State Governments, Inter-State disputes etc. which make hydropower development a formidable and daunting task.

What are the challenges and threats in the coming days? What is your strategy to overcome the situation? 
The construction of hydro projects is a challenging task, which not only requires meticulous planning and huge investments, but also involves specialized knowledge and skills to meet the challenges. NHPC is evolving various strategies to address these issues with a focus on accelerating hydro power development in the country. We are minimizing the delay in project commissioning by adopting effective project monitoring system which includes real time monitoring of projects, regular video conferencing and instant decision as far as practicable. Regular project review meeting are held to asses criticalities in various projects and resolving issues pertaining to contractors etc. Improvements are being made in contract clauses by learning from the experience of completed projects. Strategic pursuance is being made with State Govts/ local administration for ensuring conducive environment in project areas.

What are the major thrust areas in the coming days? Elaborate NHPC’s future plans?
At present NHPC has an installed capacity of 5295 MW with 14 projects including 2 projects (1520 MW) through its subsidiary NHDC Ltd..  In addition, presently we are executing 10 projects of about 4100 MW capacity and further, 7 projects of about 6000 MW capacity under various stages of clearances. In addition to above, we are also targeting projects of about 3600 MW through joint venture route.  The major thrust area is to commission the projects presently under execution at a faster pace. NHPC expects to become a 10,000 MW company in next 5-7 years of time. 

What about “power for all by 2012”?
The Govt. of India has an ambitious mission of power for all by 2012. This comprehensive target involves capacity addition, RE works through RGGVY and distribution reforms. NHPC has been assigned the target of electrifying about 29,000 villages and provide about 20.5 lac BPL connections under the RGGVY in 5 states of India with over 27 districts. So far NHPC has completed electrification works of about 24,000 villages and has established about 17 lacs BPL connections.

How do you see the power sector in the year 2020?
India is on a path of accelerated development and in order to play a leading role in the near future, energy security is of utmost importance. The reforms process and new initiatives under the guidance of MOP, Govt. of India will be instrumental in developing the power sector to fulfill the growing need of the country’s energy requirements. Renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind, tidal and solar would be of prime importance in the future keeping in view the depleting natural resources.

What about recent activities of NHPC?
NHPC is committed toward the development of hydro power in the country. Some of NHPC’s recent activities include:
Incorporation of Chenab Valley Power Projects (Private) Limited” for development of Pakal Dul, Kiru & Kwar projects in J&K with an aggregate installed capacity of 2120 MW.
Signing of Promoter’s Agreement with SJVN Limited and Government of Manipur for setting up a Joint Venture Company for implementation of 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydroelectric (Multipurpose) Project in Manipur. NHPC, SJVN and Govt. of Manipur will have an equity participation of 69%, 26% and 5% respectively in the JVC.
Signing up of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Orissa Hydro Power Corporation Limited (OHPC) and Government of Orissa for formation of a Joint Venture Company with OHPC to develop three Hydroelectric Projects, Sindol Stage I, II & III in the Mahanadi river basin of Orissa with an aggregate capacity of 320 MW.
Signing up of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Russia’s largest power generating company JSC RusHydro for co-operation in the field of hydropower development, renewable energy sources and other areas of power generation.
Work of Renovation & Modernization of Varzob HE Project in Tajikistan is in progress and major civil works have been completed in March 2011.
Any comments on government policy?
The government has taken several steps to expedite hydro power development. The new Hydro Policy 2008 of GoI provides a level playing field for all developers. Some of the remarkable features of the policy includes providing 100 units of energy per month to each PAFs for 10 years from COD and also provide 1% additional free power towards creation of Local Area Development Fund (LADF), provide assistance in implementation of rural electrification in vicinity of project area etc.  Supplying reliable power to rural households in villages located within a radius of 5 km of power stations of central PSUs is also in line with GoI policy.  In addition to above, if a single-window clearance procedure is evolved, it may further help in reducing the overall time required for clearances. The fact also remains that water is a state subject under the Constitution. Hence, the outlook of the states with hydro power potential assumes paramount importance for the sector’s future.

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