PM Promises Top Industrialists, From Anil Ambani To Ratan Tata To Solve The Crisis In

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    Feb 23, 2009
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    PM Promises Top Industrialists, From Anil Ambani To Ratan Tata To Solve The Crisis In Power Sector

    NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cheered an anxious bunch of top industrialists, from Anil Ambani to Ratan Tata, with a promise to take immediate, decisive action to solve the power sector's problems in a time-bound manner and convert the looming crisis into an opportunity.

    He has asked his principal secretary, Pulok Chatterji, to set up a committee of secretaries that should meet every week and apprise the PM about the progress once a month, said a member of the business delegation. He has also directed his cabinet colleagues to give top priority to resolve the issues that plague the sector.

    The high-profile delegation included Ashok Hinduja, Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal, Prashant Ruia of the Essar group, GMR's GM Rao, Gautam Adani, Sajjan and Naveen Jindal as well as Lanco Infratech chairman Madhusudan Rao and GVK Group's Sanjay Reddy. "We are going back happy, and we will have a nice sleep," an industrialist said.

    "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured the private players in the power sector that a 'practical, pragmatic and viable solution' will be found to the plethora of problems facing the power generation and distribution sector," a statement from the prime minister's office (PMO) said.

    "He assured the delegation of his government's commitment in taking all possible steps to mitigate the problems being faced by the power sector. He also directed his cabinet colleagues present at the meeting to make all-out efforts to resolve the key issues impacting the power sector," it said.

    Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Environment Minister Jayanti Natrajan were present at the meeting.

    The industrialists also visited these ministers as well as Finance Minister Prabab Mukherjee and Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy. The industrialists are seeking higher supply of coal and natural gas, faster environmental clearances, distribution reforms, greater access to funds, and support for ultra mega power projects that are in trouble because imported coal prices have risen sharply making their operations unviable.

    "After giving a patient hearing to their demands, the prime minister assured the delegation that action will start immediately and his principal secretary will meet the representatives after one month to apprise them of the progress made," the PMO said.

    After the meeting, where Ratan Tata kicked off the power sector's agenda and Anil Ambani summed up the core issues, the prime minister told them that the committee of secretaries would prepare a 90-day revival plan which will have monthly milestones, a member of the business delegation said. The group of CEOs will meet the PM again after 90 days to review progress, while empowered groups of ministers on gas, coal and ultra mega power projects will meet shortly to clear pending issues, he added.

    Industry officials said the prime minister's assurance was a shot in the arm for the industry. "We are very sure that the necessary solutions will be found. Some issues are complicated but with such an assurance from the highest level, we are very reassured," Ashok Khurana, director general of the Association of Power Producers said.

    Industrialists heaved a sigh of relief as their problems are monumental. At risk is investment of 2 lakh crore in power plants already built by their companies and double that number on the drawing board for construction in the next five years. Many power plants are idling or underutilised because of fuel shortages and several under construction will struggle to find affordable coal or natural gas. One member of the business delegation said that the PM was keen to ensure that Coal India meets its supply obligations.

    PM promises top industrialists, from Anil Ambani to Ratan Tata to solve the crisis in power sector - Economic Times

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