New Delhi: Union Power Minister RK Singh said that India needs coal-based thermal power plants for now and he is not in favour of shutting them down immediately. "If you tell me to shut down coal based-plants tomorrow, I will not do it because it is important for me to raise standards of our people," Singh said at The Economic Times Global Business Summit. The statement comes in the backdrop of a comment made by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde that all thermal power plants in the country should be shut down to check air pollution.
Singh said that India's per capita electricity consumption is among the lowest in the world.
The Power Minister also said that the new tariff policy could soon be finalised as a group of ministers, led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has agreed to most of the recommendations at its first meeting on March 6.
"The proposed tariff policy has been received well by the group of ministers and I expect the group to meet just once more to finalise the draft that will then be taken to Cabinet for approval," Singh said.
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Speaking at a session on 'National Infrastructure Pipeline: Can this mega push revive the Indian Economy?' Singh said that stressed power plants could come on stream. "We are adding renewables, but there is space for coal as we are adding new consumers," the minister said, adding that the country registered 26.4 lakh new consumers under Saubhagya. Out of around 32 stressed power plants, 14 have come out of stress.
With coal availability, 5000 MW power purchase agreement aggregation schemes, and new connections, the demand for electricity is likely to increase, Singh said. He also said that the Centre is considering bringing out a new scheme to revive state-owned power distribution companies. Under this scheme, grants, aids and finance from Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation will be available only to states that undertake trajectories to reduce commercial losses to 12 percent.