15:03 April 26, 2012
Mr. Narendra Modi received a thunderous applause from the audience when he said, that in other states when power comes it makes news while in Gujarat, if, at all it goes, it’s news. If you start talking about the power situation in India, it usually means you have nothing else to start a conversation or write a blog. The media makes headlines of how over a billion individuals across over 5,200 cities participated worldwide by switching off lights for Earth hour. That was a so called “green” initiative. In the matters of power, India is gaining many green points because lights are off. Last week I travelled extensively in Tamil Nadu - a power deficit state and hence a green state. There is no power between 2 pm–4pm in Chennai, the state capital. If you are unluckier, you may literally have to sweat it out between 10am–4pm.
The situation in Chennai was not so bad sometime ago and the entire country, barring a few states like Gujarat, is entering into a power blackout. I also visited Trichy and there the power situation was even worse. If you see the photograph below, it’s a common sign outside most lifts.
If you have an office on the 3rd floor or 4th floor, the rents are disproportionately lower as by default you have to assume that the lifts do not work.
In many office buildings, interesting quotations are put up like “Take stairs, improve health” because there is no electricity. All offices run on generators or inverters. In fact, the best business to invest in is UPS and inverter. They have a waiting period in Chennai.
It is quite a sad reflection of the state of affairs and many industry people I speak with say they have given up and are running private gensets on diesel. Now I understand why the government is loathe to de-control diesel prices. Most of the SMEs and MSMEs would effectively stop functioning given that they require gensets to survive. The state has completely abdicated responsibility by not providing power. Or may be to some extent the state is playing its role in making available power at ‘reasonable’ rates by maintaining its hold on diesel prices.
India is a coal surplus country. I fail to understand why we can’t have a clear and transparent policy to make coal available for power plants. I was told by some promoters who were launching power plants that this entire coal policy has paralyzed the industry and any so called addition to power generating capacity will take much longer time to come on stream.
In light of this, Gujarat seems to be a miracle. In all parameters, Gujarat has done extremely well, from a power deficit state it has become a power surplus state. I had the opportunity of listening to Honorable Mr. Narendra Modi about the infrastructure situation in Gujarat. The other initiative being undertaken by Gujarat is solar power. Given India’s BOP and crude imports, we must look to develop renewable energy at a national level.
Madam Jayalalitha has taken the bold step of increasing prices within the first 100 days of coming to power. She increased bus ticket, electricity as well as milk prices. This augurs well for the prospects of the third or the fourth front. Amongst the powerful Madams and PM aspirants, she has shown her reformist streak, unlike those in the Congress who just talk and do nothing. She has also realized that on empty coffers you cannot fulfill people’s dreams and aspirations.