Power has to wait for another Budget
Hello everybody and welcome once again to another issue of Electrical India. I on a holiday to Canada, one of the coldest places on earth. As I write this from Montreal where the temperature right now is minus 10 degree and amid growing tension just across the border where about hundred thousand people have been turned back from various airports across the US after the newly-elected Trump government imposed a ban on entry of people from seven countries to their country.
Incidentally, there is growing concern back home in India after US president Donald Trump announced restriction on H1B visa. It could result in a major setback to our IT sector, which is the largest foreign exchange generator for the country.
This week also saw for the first time in the Indian history budget presented in January against the traditional colonial era procedure of presenting the budget in February. Ever since Mr Modi came to power in 2014, he has shown keen interest in developing the Indian solar power industry as also electrifying the entire length and breadth of the country. However, finance minister Arun Jaitley has in this year’s budget, which was overshadowed by the currency demonetisation imposed by his government in November 2016, has given less importance to the power sector. This was expected as the entire focus of Budget 2017 was how much relief would he give after the “note ban”.
It is a known fact that private power companies have always struggled to stay put in the industry, which has been dominated by public sector enterprises. With more push on renewable energy since last couple of years, the government has increased the outlay for the renewable sector by about 10% from the previous year’s Rs. 5036 crore to Rs. 5473 crore this year. What has to be seen is how the GST, which hopefully will be implemented this year, will impact the renewable industry. Since the government has concentrated more on solar power, it has to be seen how the solar components would be categorised after GST.
I for one thought Jaitley should have pumped in more money into hydro power sector, which has been languishing for more than a decade now. Same goes for the nuclear energy, especially after Rs 400 per tonne clean cess was imposed on coal last year. The fanfare with which Manmohan Singh and Obama signed the deal a decade back, has not been carried forward thereafter. If the government wants the world to come to India to manufacture, we need power not in few hundred mega watts but in thousands. This would be possible only and only if huge amount is allocated for the power sector and certainly not possible with a piecemeal approach.
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