ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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We Simply Deserve Better

Challenges in Coal and Power Sectors

Claims of a "turnaround" in the infrastructure sector are premature in a country where two-thirds of households do not have combined access to electricity, commercial cooking energy, piped water and sanitation. The gaps in infrastructure planning, examined in this article for the coal and power sectors, point to serious issues in the Indian context that need informed discussions rather than mere rhetoric.

The immediate provocation for this article is another written by Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairman, Niti Aayog, in the Business Standard (2016) which talks about the “turnaround” in India’s infrastructure sector. In this article, I shall limit myself to Panagariya’s understanding of the coal and power sectors. This is not because all is well with the oil and gas sectors. In fact, unlike Panagariya, I see several issues with the recent announcements on the pricing freedom for natural gas from deep and high pressure fields, the renegotiated pricing formula for liquefied natural gas import from Qatar, the new Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy (HELP), and the efforts to monetise 67 already discovered small and marginal fields. But incorporating these aspects in this piece would make it unwieldy and, in any event, the jury on HELP is still out, since the devil, as always, is in the detail and detailed documentation covering the new provisions of HELP is not yet in public domain.

At the outset, I would also like to place on record that in all my writings since the Modi government came to power, I have marvelled at the frantic pace at which initiatives have been taken to address pressing challenges that India faces as a nation, especially in the power and energy sectors. The vision that Narendra Modi has articulated, the work ethics and the genuine spirit of “nation first” that he has engendered have given rise to much needed optimism. Clearly, things are happening and India is on the move.

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