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No economy can sustain free electricity promises: Shinde

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, May 14: Calling upon all political parties to refrain from making electoral promises like free electricity before state assembly polls, Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said that no economy can sustain such promises.

Speaking at a ''interface between government, consumer and industry'' on the power scenario at the Indian Merchants' Chamber (IMC) here, Mr Shinde reiterated that there should be consensus among all political parties to refrain from giving such promises.

Incidentally, Mr Shinde himself had promised free electricity before the 2004 assembly elections when he was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The state government had implemented the given promise for few months before scrapping it after the Congress-NCP coalition came back to power.

On the Ratnagiri Gas and Power project, the Minister said the plant earlier called as Dabhol Power Project had naftha which could last for about two months.

''At present, the Maharashtra government will purchase the power at Rs 2.40 per unit. The tariff will go up when the naftha will be purchased. Talks are on with various countries for the supply of gas to the project. Final decision is expected by February-March 2007,'' he added.

Mr Shinde said the power situation in the country was challenging, but at the same time there were enough opportunities. Reacting to a suggestion about providing tax exemptions for R&D in the power sector, he said he would look into the matter and speak to the Finance Ministry in this connection. He called upon the industry to increase investments in R&D.

He admitted that there was power deficit in the country. There were problems in generation and distribution. There was no dearth of money but a proper roadmap was needed for providing cheap, quality and uninterrupted power supply.

Mr Shinde released this month's issue of 'Power Challenge', a magazine on power scenario in the country.

The Minister also appreciated a suggestion regarding developing alternate sources of energy in order to reduce dependence on conventional sources of energy.

Maharashtra Energy Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, while describing the power scenario in the state as ''disturbing'', said his government had taken several initiatives to increase electricity generation and streamline distribution systems.


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