Citizens' Issues
How to use the existing RTI Act of India to query the private sector

 Chances of a single answer to two opposing questions on the RTI Act means there is something to it which the rule-books don’t tell you about—but you can bowl googlies to them, too, when the system expects you to hold a straight bat to their bouncers

Here is a single answer to two diametrically opposite questions—“Yes, you can file an application under the Right to Information Act of India 2005 (RTI Act), if the entity is substantially financed or in any other way subject to the above Act”. What to do after that, if a reply is not sent or received, is another matter altogether—and one that can have consequences which cannot be predicted, for the said entity. All it costs you is Rs10 plus Re1 service charges—total Rs11.

The questions to this answer are either from private companies and entities which consider themselves above and beyond the RTI Act—or from people who wish to get responses under the RTI Act from such private companies or entities. Whether they are schools, sports associations, companies working under PPP (public-private partnership) or joint-venture projects, private airport operators, large or small corporates funded heavily by public sector banks and financial institutions (FIs), or similar—filing and sending an RTI application is your birthright, even if they have not made provisions for receiving them.

As always, anecdotal experiences used as actual case studies. The most important, for this writer, of course, goes back to 2006 when an RTI application on the Indian Olympics Association was initially refused—thrown away and out, as a matter of fact, along with the undersigned. The result, after filing the application subsequently by post, by way of a judgement at the Central Information Commission (CIC) as well as Delhi High Court, became a citation, became a citation—which can be seen here.

http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/465885/.

Briefly, it defines who is a “public authority”, the entities that come under the RTI Act of India, 2005.

But of late, there have been a few applications which go here and there, and then around some more, with the entity being quizzed using every trick in the book to evade providing responses. Prominent here are companies like the Delhi International Airport (DIAL) which operates the Delhi Airport, some sports associations like BCCI (cricket) and FMSCI (motorsports), SEBI and the stock exchanges.

But where there is a will, there is a way, and it is always important to remember that most private companies in India of any large size, whether home-grown or international or foreign, have some amount of “substantial financing” from the Indian government in their books, hidden away in the fine-print somewhere. The big thing is to file the RTI application in such a way that it stays on their records as well as on the records of the known public authorities that they come under. As a strategy, to achieve something by commencing an organic process that winds its way up slowly and surely, this is unbeatable.

A few months ago I came across a few media reports, here is one: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110420/jsp/orissa/story_13877351.jsp...  and the relevant part that caught my eye was this: “Posco India has so far spent Rs3,000 crore in its proposed steel plant near Paradip”... but the other interesting part was here—“Sources said Posco India has so far given direct employment to 53 persons and indirect employment to 20. The state has got Rs4.41 crore as taxes from the project”.

Some more searching, and it turns out that this number was also being used in context with the state visit of South Korea’s president Lee Meung Bak and the potential $19 billion investment in Odisha for iron ore mining and transport onwards, a figure which kept varying with different reports. All these big numbers, of course, were placing pressure on the central and state government to move rapidly in a direction—the export of natural resources which could better be used internally for domestic production—which was eminently flawed.

But who does one send an RTI query to in such cases?

The answer is simple.

1) An opening RTI application of a general sort, where more details for information of the real numbers behind the project, are sought from the office of the prime minister of India.

2) The next RTI application of a specific sort, seeking information on taxes paid in the course of spending so much money, ongoing and proposed, are sought from the office of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

3) And finally, the really tricky one, is two separate RTI applications containing the same queries for more specific and detailed information, are sought from the office of the Planning Commission and directly from the office of the Indian subsidiary of the company itself, in this case, Posco-India Private Limited, 116, Park Centra (1st floor) Tower-B, Opposite 32nd Milestone, NH-8, Sector-30, Gurgaon-122001.

Here is a copy of the RTI application that I sent to Posco.

Requesting information under the RTI Act of India, 2005, please provide me with the following information. THIS INFORMATION IS SOUGHT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, AND THERE IS OVER-RIDING PARAMOUNT LARGER PUBLIC INTEREST TO BE GIVEN THE INFORMATION I HAVE ASKED FOR.

INFORMATION REQUIRED:-

a) Please provide me with full information pertaining to adherence of Posco-India Pvt Ltd to the RTI Act of India 2005.

b) Please provide me with full information pertaining to the various taxation adherences and status of Posco and/or their Indian subsidiary Posco India Pvt Ltd claiming that they have spent Rs3000 crore in India so far and if CBDT has any information on this heavy expense. (Source: Media report per: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110420/jsp/orissa/story_13877351.jsp quote:

“Bhubaneswar, April 19: Posco India has so far spent Rs3,000 crore in its proposed steel plant near Paradip though the project still remains stuck with the company yet to take possession of even an inch of land at the site. The company’s investments came to light during an ongoing review meeting chaired by steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty.”

c) Please provide me with full information on expenses incurred by Posco and/or their Indian subsidiary Posco India Pvt Ltd on any travel/junket or other expenses on Indian officials, journalists and other people not connected with the day-to-day regular work of Posco and/or their Indian subsidiary Posco India Pvt Ltd.

d) If any of the above said statutory records are not available, the complete details of how it was destroyed/weeded out in each case.

e) Electronic access to the catalogue (or catalogues) of all records of your public authority duly indexed in a manner and the form to facilitate right to information, either over the computer networks or in the form of a diskette or other electronic media at the prescribed fees.

Sent by e-mail and signed hard copy, self-verified, (signed) and humbly submitted,

From: V Malik,

D-61, Defence Colony,

New Delhi - 110024

Note 1. Application fee of Rs10 in cash shall be submitted within 30 days as per procedure laid down by DoP&T at PIO, Posco India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, or at any one of the nominated APIOs located at the specified Post Offices in India, and a copy of this application along with receipt shall be sent to you co-terminus. Interim, you are requested to commence processing this RTI application as per the RTI Act, 2005 with effect from date of submission of this electronic copy, also as per the RTI Act, 2005.

Note 2. The public authority, Posco India Pvt Ltd, Gurgaon, has not yet published their arrangements to accept/accompany electronic payments for e-filings as per Section 6 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, is requested to do same,  and hence I am constrained to go to extra expense/trouble to file a routine email request by Postal Department also.

Note 3. I wish to specify that you may please not provide to me that information (or particular portion thereof) which would impede the prosecution of offenders under any law of India, and also any personal information which is unconnected with any public activity/interest or which invades the privacy of any person. THIS INFORMATION IS SOUGHT IN THE LARGER PUBLIC INTEREST, AND THERE IS OVER-RIDING PARAMOUNT LARGER PUBLIC INTEREST TO BE GIVEN THE INFORMATION I HAVE ASKED FOR.

Note 4: Humbly also submitted that section 8(2) of RTI Act clearly mentions that “A public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests”. In present case even section 8(1) (j) is applicable for the information sought. Also it leaves no scope to invoke section 11 of RTI Act for seeking ‘third party’ comments. However since various CIC verdicts allow protection in form of hiding certain information likely to be misused, bank details etc in the sought information may be hidden by putting a whitener on the relevant portions of the documents to be provided.  In case RTI petition relates to some other public authority, please transfer this RTI petition to CPIO there under section 6(3) of RTI Act.

(Postal-order number __________________ _______________ for rupees ten is enclosed with signed hard-copy towards RTI fees in name of “Accounts Officer” as per DoPT circular-number No.F.10/9/2008-IR dated 05.12.2008.)

In essence, there is no way that Posco could not accept this RTI application, because it was sent by registered post using the “via Post Office” and transfer under Section 6(3) method, and that is step-1. The parallel application to the Planning Commission and PMO and CBDT is step two, and was done so that the information sought comes on record, and also if at a later date if a scam is uncovered, then it will be fairly correct to assume that the Planning Commission, PMO and CBDT would have by then further moved the application to ALL the public authorities concerned. The Planning Commission and PMO also have enough information on record pertaining to not just about the central government, but also the state governments and other entities which do not come under the central act, but come under their own state acts—which makes things difficult for us.

This has the effect of putting everybody on their guard, flags come up at every point along the line where anything wrong may even remotely have been done, and all questions lead back to the company—in this case, Posco India. By the end of it, even Posco knows that it would be in their interest to provide a response to the application, either directly or through any of the central government public authorities, as not providing one will certainly lead to even more complications with the various government public authorities now asking the same questions.

Which is what happened. After all the RTI applications went around, the eventual result was that Posco as well as other entities involved in this episode declared that the Rs3,000 crore figure was an incorrect one, and the real figure was only Rs300-odd crore. Maybe not even that much.

What did one achieve by this?

Perception is often used to confuse the truth. By throwing around huge numbers as promised foreign investment and benefit to the nation, a situation is created where any opposition to these projects is considered to be anti-national, and the complete public relation exercise swings into play. The repeated tom-tomming of the Rs3,000 crore number had the result that the promoters wanted—it motivated all sorts of dynamics to help the project along. The reality was that a pittance had actually been spent by the company, more had probably been spent by various arms of the government using our taxes to prop this game along, and what was essentially in some ways a hoax became truth by repetition.

If you are faced with a similar situation, where a wall of denials is placed in front of you by assorted entities including private companies which have been suitably financed by the government or state/city governments think of this tactic. File RTIs on the PMO and Planning Commission, and wait for results. There is no large project in this country by the private sector which can say it has not received substantial government aid in some form or the other. Remember, subsidies, waivers of tax, loans from government sector financial institutions like insurance companies and PSU banks—make a private company come under the “substantially financed” category for RTI purposes.

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COMMENTS

Shalija Prothia

3 months ago

i m fighting case my husband may i file rti to hv his income information from his comapny

kamal singh chauhan

2 years ago

Dear Sir my question to you is that According to RTI act, who is accountable to give us some personal information related to accounts about the private limited company.

kamal singh chauhan

2 years ago

Dear Sir my question to you is that According to RTI act, who is accountable to give us some personal information related to accounts about the private limited company.

anand

3 years ago

Hdfc bank is terminated my service without any reason can I get informantion through rti act gr8m hdfc bank

Murali

4 years ago

Please refer to this link

http://www.siliconindia.com/shownews/Pri...

This means that, even if a private company is not substantially funded by a government agency, it can still be queried indirectly through the government agency/agencies that it reports to..for example, query TRAI w.r.t a mobile phone services provider.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

Maj Pankaj Rai

4 years ago

An excellent article and of immense use to a common man pitted against a private corporation. Sir, is it possible to speak to you and understand how this can be used to obtain information from private hospitals. I can be reached at 99163 57115.

sachidanand kamat

5 years ago

Thanks for your insightful and thought provoking article. It gives me hope to pursue an issue of importance to many - for which I seek your help

In brief - the NHB (National Housing Bank) has directed all HFCs (Housing Finance Companies) through two circulars on 19th October 2011 that (a) Prepayment penalty should not be charged (b) Old and new customers should get uniform rates of interest as long as they fall in the same credit rating/bracket

I have been trying hard to get HDFC to let me know whether they have complied with these (especially the second) but they are stalling - saying HDFC is yet to take a view.

Meanwhile, NHB in their circular has asked for immediate compliance and confirmation of the same from HFCs

Please let me know what is the simplest way to take this up

thanks and regards

REPLY

malq

In Reply to sachidanand kamat 5 years ago

Dear S. Kamat ji, I would suggest you file multiple RTIs asking for the related INFORMATION (not opinion/advice, but specific information) from RBI, Ministry of Finance, HDFC, NHB and Indian Banks Association, using the postal route. Wherever the RTI details are not available online, please file to "incumbent CPIO; actually filing to incumbent CPIO of any public authority is a valid and better step.

Good luck and rgds/VM

sachidanand kamat

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

thanks for your response!
i need a few clarifications:
- what is the specific information i must seek from RBI, Ministry of Finance & Indian Banks Association (HDFC is a NBFC and not a Bank)
- what is the full form of CPIO
- how is the Rs 10/11 fee to be paid

sorry for the trouble but I am a novice at this (but with your help- not for long)

Thanks again

malQ

In Reply to sachidanand kamat 5 years ago

Dear Kamat ji,

1) Please do visit and read up here:- http://cic.gov.in/

2) Please contact any of the many RTI groups either on the internet or in every town.

Hope this helps. Best of luck. If it doesn't then please let me know.

Best/VM

Rajesh Kothari

In Reply to sachidanand kamat 5 years ago

CPIO - Central Public Information Officer
Purchase a Postal Order from a Post Office for Rs.10/- (they will charge Rs.1 commission). If not available buy 2x5 or 1x20 - what ever is available. Mark it payable to "Accounts Officer" and enclose it along with your application. Or go to a bank and get Draft or Pay order in favour of "Accounts Officer".

Shankar

5 years ago

This is a very interesting experience. I am one of the people involved in working on the POSCO issue, from the point of view of defending the rights of the people affected by the project and opposing the threat it poses to India's economy. I wonder if you could send me a copy of the RTI reply you received. It would be very useful. We will follow up by some of our own using the same method you have so clearly outlined here.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Shankar 5 years ago

Dear Shankar ji, gladly, please provide me with an email or postal address to send scan/photo copies of dox.

rgds/VM

Shankar

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Thanks very much for the swift reply. I'd rather not post my email address in the open here, but I have entered it along with my comment. Would it not be available to you through that? If not, can you send the organisation with which I work an email through the website linked to from this comment; I will get the email and reply ASAP. Thanks again very much for this.

malq

In Reply to Shankar 5 years ago

Dear Shankar - we don't access the eMail addresses provided by interacters, so could you please send me your viable eMail address at veereshmalik at gmail dot com . . . thanks/VM

a v moorthi besides TIHAR

5 years ago

Dear Malik ji,

i had not received replies for my trailing mail from CVO of Andhra Bank and others
conerned. Please use RTI to seek update from Andhra Bank and CVC ion this is to request you to update me on this.

(a.v.moorthi)
9958229345


On Tue, 15 Nov 2011 11:10:56 +0530 wrote

To,
Mr.Sivasri
CVO & General Manager
Andhra Bank,
Head Office
Dr. Pattabhi Bhawan
Saifabad- Hyderabad-500 004
Ph:- 040 23235344, Mob:- 9848502255, PABX :- 04023252000

Dear Mr Sivasri

Ref : my mails Dt Oct 15,2011 and Sept 15,2011 with

Sub:-Gudivada and Vijayawada Zone style of Banking - lot 2

[email protected],[email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected],
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected],

[email protected] on 15 Oct 2011 and

Sub:-Gudivada and Vijayawada Zone style of Banking

[email protected], [email protected]
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected] on 15
Sept 2011



I have not received acknowledgement, interim reply or final reply as the case for
my above referred mails which I am sure you are aware I am entitled for. I am sure
Bank in recent times has not entered a phase wherein you would like me to
understand that "Replying to emails is not the accepted cultural or work practice
in Andhra Bank" or message given by the Bank is that in case of illegitimate
transactions like the one's detailed by me, can be condoned if the suspect happen
to highly placed in the rank of Chief Manager, Asst General Manager, Deputy
General Manager and GM for the various commissions and omissions detailed in my
above referred mails.

a.v.moorthi
C4C/14/72
Janakpuri
New Delhi-110058
9958229345
[email protected]


CVC:- This is to bring to your notice the CVO or any responsible person in Andhra
Bank has not contested the contents of my above referred mails. Also it may be
noted the mail dt 15.10.2011 ( including the contents of mail dt 15 Sept 2011) was
marked to your office in [email protected]. So it is requested please take up with
desk officer in your office as to what was follow up for my mail.

REPLY

malQ

In Reply to a v moorthi besides TIHAR 5 years ago

Dear Moorthi ji,

Request you to please visit the Andhra Bank RTI website and file your RTI Application. From your mail, it is not clear what the issue is please, however under RTI you can ask for information on progress of your letter / complaint, status therein, and other information desired.

Hope this helps/VM

a v moorthi

In Reply to malQ 5 years ago

i would like to speak to you. could you please revert - 9958229345

malq

In Reply to a v moorthi 5 years ago

I would suggest all aspects to be by mail, c/o editor of MoneyLife, please.

regards/VM

Solar power generation - is it a crime?

Whichever way you look at it, solar energy back to grid which is now economically feasible in India even on a 1:1 basis, but is simply not going to move forward because of the lobbying involved in seeing that it does not happen

Experimenting with solar energy has fascinated me since first noticing photo-voltaic cell panel clusters on rooftops in Japan—way back in the late eighties. Driving through a small town en route to join ship at Kashima (a major port in Honshu, recently badly damaged by the tsunami) in 1982, I asked the driver for more information on this, and like all helpful Japanese people he stopped at the next house which had a solar panel on its roof, rang the bell, did the complete exchange of greetings routine with the house-owner, and then got us invited in for a grand tour of the solar facility—of course, we had to take our shoes off and sit on the ground to drink tea with the family, first. Turned out that the owner was a very senior engineer at the steel factory to which the ship I was about to join was delivering a couple of hundred thousand tonnes of coal, was waiting for the workmen’s bus, and so he rode with me till the factory, which was part of the integrated facility that included the port where my ship was berthed.
 
As seafarers, we generate our own electricity on board ships, and lots of it. Apart from keeping the main engines turning, we need vast amounts of power for cranes, auxiliaries of all sorts, winches, lighting and back-up to provide power for shore supply in ports which don't have power. (Oh yes, there are plenty of them worldwide, where ports don't have electricity, and depend on the ship’s supply.)
 
It was obvious that the house-owner and the driver were both very proud of the way solar energy was entering the alternate energy space in Japan. As a nation which depended completely on imported oil and coal, brought in on ships operated by people like me, they were very clear even way back then in 1982 that the way forward was through renewable and alternate energy sources. Pollution control was the other reason, and the fact that their beloved national symbol, the venerated Mount Fuji, was in those days surrounded by a yellow-brown-grey smog at all times, had seriously impacted the Japanese psyche. Not being able to see Mount Fuji from a distance was like not being able to see God, I was told, and they had to all work together to fix this. It was like a ‘dharma’, in national interest, to do this.
 
In this case, the power generated was fed back into the electricity grid, for which the house-owner received, in 1982, a credit of about 1.25 times the power generated. This credit was applied to his monthly power bill, and more than all the monetary benefits which were inflation free, sent a very strong message to the younger generation on saving wastage of power too. The householder, on the other hand, did not have to build up storage facilities (battery banks) for power generated and the billing process even then was automated by a variation of what we knew in India as “PO Meters”, then used in crossbar telephone exchanges. The design for those PO meters, by the way, was from an Indian public sector company called ITI—which had further in its turn improved on a design from Czechoslovakia.
 
Countries in those days were constantly ‘borrowing’ designs from each other to get ahead with their own manufacturing. This was the case with ship-building, also, incidentally—as well as anything else, from nuclear reactors to steel plants to power projects to match-boxes, cycles and furniture. The concept of placing a subsidiary in position which did end-to-end work in another country was considered not to be in national interest then, and IPR (intellectual property right) was considered to be a colonial tool to keep people in economic slavery, which we are seeing happen all around us now. The era from the end of the 2nd World War till about 1980 was considered to be the golden years for this sort of an approach between countries—you liked something new in another country, you visited them, asked for the designs, got them, and did your best to replicate them back home. From PCBs to pharmaceutical formulations, from dams to shipyards, these were the glory years.
 
Long and short of this report is that even then, the Japanese, now paying the price for the Fukushima nuclear reactor, were taking steps to not just fix the known environmental issues by moving into different methods of producing power which did not involve fossil fuels, but were also simultaneously running a bottom up ultra micro power generation effort, ably supported by the state. Those days, the technology for this came from Germany, largely.
 
Today, Japan has about 6000+ MW of ultra-micro solar generated power linked to the grid. They hope to triple this number in the next three years. The utilities back on a 2:1 basis, for every unit generated, the household or office building gets a credit of two units. Commercial generation of power from offshore facilities like “solar arks” anchored offshore which link to power grids are seen all over the coast as you sail in on ships. Public covered spaces have solar panels on the roof and the sides. And this does not include standalone solar power units like portables of all sorts.
 
By contrast, the complete Enron project in India was supposed to reach 2000MW, in its final phase. The equivalent real number on grid linked solar power for India, with far more sunny days and need of power now, is between 10MW and 30MW, as on December 2010. A mid-sized naval ship generates more. The solar policy for India is still being debated in Delhi, though Gujarat and Rajasthan have made their own state policies and implemented them, Bihar is reportedly about to announce it on the Gujarat pattern, Karnataka is about half-way there on its own pattern, and Rajasthan has one that is operating de-facto on the Gujarat pattern but is still to be closed out.
 
The absence of a true solar policy at national level and in most of the states has simple reasons—it puts to risk a complete stream of big business inertia levels—from import of oil and coal to transporting them to construction of power plants to distribution and finally to the money made in transmission as well as the typical 50%+ transmission losses. In addition, it is not incorrect to assume that the budding high growth private healthcare business in India will suffer if the air we breathe becomes cleaner. Some people even say that the livelihood of the political system depends on this, now that cricket has withered away, and other industries are in recession. You go to any renewable energy seminar or exhibition, and you see all the big names present there, but you ask them for real life products, you are asked to climb a wall.
 
Whichever way you look at it, solar energy back to grid which is now economically feasible in India even on a 1:1 basis, is simply not going to move forward because of the lobbying involved in seeing that it does not happen. This is a real tragedy, seeing the potential India has, and the ever-increasing cost of fuel, dollar and healthcare. It is easy to curse cars and bikes for air pollution, but why don’t we also see the realities due to power generation?
 
So back to anecdotal to help close this essay. A few months ago, we were changing the “meter box” at our family home and an inspection by the electrical utility in Delhi needed to be undertaken.  The engineer in question, a fine young man, did his job impeccably. We got speaking, and he opened up, small town boy from a part of the country where I had spent some years making his way in the big bad city. He then noticed the small solar panels hanging on the front wall, which power up our emergency lights as well as a few night lamps, on a stand-alone basis. And then he told me something—if I was generating electricity, I could be penalised for not keeping a record of how much I was generating, and then not paying a tax on it to my Delhi Government. And he was supposed to report it.
 
Another time, the MCD appointed busybodies who are supposed to keep an eye on illegal construction and mosquitoes and that sort of thing, but actually wink at them, and one of them rang the bell. He wanted to know more about why I was generating electricity using the solar panels, which can be seen from the street, and wanted to come and take a look. I told him to do his worst, and showed him his mobile phone and wrist-watch, and asked him why he was generating electricity—an extreme example, but it had him flummoxed as he walked away.
 
The numbers are simple—per back of the envelope calculations on date, till a particular price point, say around Rs18 to Rs20 per unit, solar power starts making sense if the home rooftop model is not linked back to the grid. If it is linked back to the grid and the return to the entity generating solar power is done on a 1:1 basis, it has started making economic sense already, at around Rs8 a unit. But there is now a midway number, closer to the lower end, for people who already have inverters at home, and can use those batteries as storage, as well as the controller for prioritising the consumption of the solar energy when grid power is also present.
 
The truth on the ground is that the real solar power revolution in India will have to take place ground up. This is clear after talking to a large number of people who are in this line on the subject. Not just because of the difficulty in hooking power generated back to the grid, but because of the lack of a clear policy and rules as well as legislation on the subject, and the sheer power of the inertia levels against it. To even try to levy a penalty on presumed power generation because one has a solar panel at home, and there may be some archaic laws which back this sort of an attitude, is anti-national in this day and age of rising fuel prices and dropping rupee value.
 
Start generating solar power at home, visible to all, and that will be the only way to take this forward. And if anybody threatens you with prosecution on this, please write to us.

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)

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COMMENTS

Nagesh Kini

4 years ago

With a low key Union Ministry led by Dr. Abdullah for Non Conventional Energy the powerful anti- alternate energy lobby lead by coal and nuclear power is determined to sabotage any form of energy. Giving the Mission JN name has not succeeded. Solar, wind, wave energy use ought to be aggressively pursued by putting it in the PPP mode without delay before there is a total breakdown.
Nuclear power post-Fukusima and Germany and others in Europe abandoning it has to be a decent burial despite pressures from lobbies.
No cheap Chinese chips/models under any circumstances.

angela alvares

4 years ago

Yes when every other nation is moving full speed into renewables with an accent on solar and innovating and even hleping their citizens EARN MONEY through FIT tarriffs by collecting electricity on their roofs and selling it to the government, our government of outdated old men are planning costly nuclear projects that will take ten years to complete when we need the power now and can have it installed in a day on our roofs or in just six months in the case of concentrated solar plants that can power an entire town! Definitely a revolution has to take place and it starts with the individual. If each of us put in our own solar systems to whom will this government filled with uninformed politicians sell their expensive nuclear electricity to?
I'm typing this comment by the way on a computer entirely run on SOLAR from my rooftop. The price...the cost of a vacation!

REPLY

Deepak R Khemani

In Reply to angela alvares 4 years ago

Please share with us the equipment you are using, and the amount spent on that and where did you source it from, it may help a lot of informed citizens to do exactly what you are doing. thanks in advance.

vikas batra

5 years ago

japnese are way ahead of us, they did in 1982 what we have not learnt till now, to go and follow nature and use it effectively and not destroy but alas our govt goes for nuclear ( as they get kickbacks) , leave alone any village even in chandigarh( a good educated north indian city) but only 10% people go for solar water system even after there is govt subsidy, we all will follow a herd which is going into well but not use our brains

Avi

5 years ago

A very interesting article. All energy initiatives operate within an ecology and this ecology will always have its 'food chain' with the bigger player sitting at the top. The big players of the food chain happen to be non-renewable energy players and will loath to let go the control they exert in true sense. It is public consciousness which can help change or shape this initiative.
The world business council for sustainable development had released a roadmap to converting homes to energy producers by multifold initiatives in 2010, with which we had been involved in creating the communication. One can access the roadmap here:

http://www.wbcsd.org/vision2050.aspx

Arriving at better means of power generation is a second step (though can happen concurrently). Looking at alternative energy is a more important first step. The overwhelming idea is 'alternate energy is happening somewhere over there'. It is not looked upon as a feasible solution or an intimate story. To make the story of alternate energy intimate is an urgent first step?

malq

5 years ago

A comment on this article at FB, reproduced . . .

(Ray Podder:) Solar photovoltaics make a better example than true solution, especially with large scale solar which has more hidden costs buried in toxic storage, transport inefficiencies and materials production. It looks clean and it is obviously better than dirty energy generation overall, but it is dated technology better for political posturing rather than the centralized replacement it claims to be. Solar is most efficient at a local scale. The less popularized solar solutions like piezoelectric solar film, solar sterling water collector/generators, molten salt storage systems, carbon nanotube photon collectors, artificial photosynthesis and other membrane technologies and more are far more efficient and relevant solutions. Especially in India.

A lateral strategy, where everyplace is a power station is a far better application for photovoltaics than the solar farm bs. The truth is that we are at a point technically to maximize the use of heat, friction, kinetics, pressure, biomechanics and biochemistry like never before. The working, practical examples of these applications are abundant. What is missing is mass innovation acceleration at the local scale to make them widely accessible.

The idea that energy production should be expensive or that it needs to reach parity with dirty energy is FALSE! It is a last ditch attempt by existing old world energy interests to hold on to a failing economic model. However, knowing that innovation reduces risk, there are new opportunities emerging where it may be a win-win-win for capital, government and science. India is the ideal place for these ideas to flourish. I share a lot of these strategies and memes in my upcoming book, and we are building web models for innovation accelerators now, that can be real solutions sooner than later.

When it comes to large scale solar, I urge you to look beyond the shiny surface. There are better options, and no one is better than doing more with less than the inhabitants where you are :)

Nagesh Kini FCA

5 years ago

It is now clear why in power starved nation why solar energy is not taking off even in a small way despite promised subsidies that are difficult to come by.
Like CFL/LED bulbs solar panels ought to be made available across counters and electricians trained by ITIs available to install them. The artificially inflated prices need to be brought down. No sub-standard cheap Chinese stuff at any cost. They should be raided and crushed mercilessly.

malQ

5 years ago

For Delhi, the CM announced that a rooftop solar policy would be announced ""soon"" way back in May 2011, and even provided a figure for buyback, at 17/- a unit. Nothing heard since then. Enquiries with BSES on a personal basis revealed that this was not a priority - the priority was to enable better collection.

Ash Nallawalla

5 years ago

I think I have solved it. Your Delhi MCD flunkies are not aware that the Salt Act was repealed in 1946, thanks to one MK Gandhi and have applied that logic to solar energy generation. I wonder if Indian cows are allowed to generate methane without a permit.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Ash Nallawalla 5 years ago

Blocking the progress of solar energy in India is a much bigger game, being played on a National level, and unfortunately I can not share reports which provide the true picture - but shall quote from them in the next article.

Here's the Government's position report as in February 2011. Things haven't changed much since.

http://www.cercind.gov.in/2011/Whats-New...

rgds/VM

Ash Nallawalla

5 years ago

I'd caution others from buying cheap solar gimmicks. I bought a Chinese-made panel (around 6 cm by 15 cm that is plugged into a LED lantern) for about $30. It had a built-in rechargeable battery. It sat in a window for months until I needed to use it one day -- dead as a dodo. A candle did a better job in an emergency. We also get solar-panel path lights that you push into the garden soil along a path (until they are stolen), but their light is too dim to illuminate the path.

malq

5 years ago

Here are a few comments on the article above, courtesy my FB pages . . .look especially at Ash Nalawalla's photos and numbers . . . Australia, with all the coal in the world, charges 27 cents for power per unit but pays back 66 cents per unit.

Akhil Jugran:- Use solar more effectively - check out the Tilonia experiment - electrified a whole complex! Now electrifying villages around the world. GET OFF THE GRID. (for India) (Expert on rural power global)

Suneel Subramanyam:- selling back to the grid is a better solution.. http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/con....
(Shippie friend, C/Eng on ships kicking out over 100,000 bhp)

Ash Nallawalla:- We have had our 3 kW solar panel array for a couple of months and on a sunny, cloudless day we recover our ~20 kWh usage. For usage we pay about $0.27/kWh but what we export to the grid gets us $0.66/kWh. Ours cost $10,800 back in July 2011, but they are cheaper now I think, because the vendors reduced their profit to attract customers when the govt subsidy ended on 1 Sep 2011(Friend, currently in Ausralia, and photos below) http://www.flickr.com/photos/trainsem/se...

KAR:- There is something called the PM's National Action Plan on Climate Change. One of its 8 missions is named "Solar Mission". It must be the kiss of death to actually making it happen. (Technologist, teaches at IIT)

Siddhesh

5 years ago

Great write up and an eye opener. I always wondered what is stopping us from installing solar rooftops , solar panels on my terrace and also whether there is available any small wind mill which can be installed on the top of a multi-storey tower and the power generated can be used to light staircases and garden. But sincerely you write-up was very inspiring.
-Regards

REPLY

malQ

In Reply to Siddhesh 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, Siddhesh, and all we can do is help in building up a critical mass by going and looking for stand-alone solar lamps in our local markets and using them, talking about them, and working for the perceptions to build up. You may wish to look at SELCO and COSMOS IGNITE, amongst others, for Indian solutions.

rgds/VM

Narasim

5 years ago

Generating electricity on a bicycle dynamo should also be illegal then, haha!! and people have been doing that for many decades now!!

Shivansh Tyagi

5 years ago

The current solar capacity stands at 180MW and expected to cross 1300MW by March 2013. So, we are making progress in the solar sector. Apart from this Electricity Act 2003, allows any one to generate power for his own use as captive power, so nobody could stop u doing a solar power plant at home, its not a crime. India need solar power not only to cut its greenhouse emission or as a green energy but to make up the deficit of 12% in peak supply to demand.
Apart from grid interactive projects government also provide capital subsidy upto 30% and soft loans for non-commercial solar power generation.
Its now upto us to come forward and make solar as an essential part of our lives.

REPLY

malQ

In Reply to Shivansh Tyagi 5 years ago

Dear Shivansh Tyagi, thank you for writing in.

Per a report in my hands from a leading consultant, which is private so can not be declared, the total solar capacity linked to grid in India is only 10MW on date. The higher figure I receivd from a source in the MNRE. The rest are either stand alones or projects underway but not complete.

The Central Government does not have a solar policy in place ondate though one has been promised for ages.

The local authorities can and do levy all sorts of surcharges for private power generation, even if for captive purposes - please.

Regards/VM

angela alvares

In Reply to malQ 4 years ago

Nationwide solar capacity stands at 150MW but Gujerat alone is now producing 650MW of solar power due to Modi's initiative to cover water canals with solar panels, which also saves water from evaporation plus takes care of the problem of space. Tamil Nadu is producing over 2000MW of wind power when the wind blows!

Shivansh Tyagi

In Reply to malQ 5 years ago

Well I am also in Solar field, and myself visted project worth 40MW grid connected, may be the data is of 2010 as u mentioned.
Apart from this central government has a clear policy of solar under Jawahar Lal National Solar Mission , which cover both grid and stand alone projects with a target of 20000MW by 2022 already around 1000MW has been awarded.
Yes sometimes local authority levies some surcharges and they should me removed. But there are some governments which also give incinitives to produce solar power. In rural areas government even allow sale of power without any license through standalone systems.

malq

In Reply to Shivansh Tyagi 5 years ago

Dear Shivansh Tyagi,

Thank you for writing in and I would love to learn more, as well as have more details of the 40MW grid connected project - shall be keen as well as proud to visit it and be corrected.

The MNRE list is available here, and shows a total of 45MW as in mid-2011 - and is being exremely economical with the truth. The 2x1MW grid linked plants in Delhi, for example, are not fully linked as yet and some plants linked to grid have not even reached financial closure, given the tendency of some operators to wait to "flip" the projects.

http://www.mnre.gov.in/pdf/MW-size-Grid-...

The issue is not to get into a nit-picking argument. The JLNSR is full of good intentions. On the ground, the story is different, and tax benefits are the major driver - not grid linkage, where payments from SEBs are the bigger issue.

My point is this - small micro solar generation from rooftops as small as 100-200 square feet, need to be fed back into grid, and credits given on a 1:2 basis, in addition to all these multi-million rupee/dollar projects. Where is this, other than hot air and big words, in all the policies and plans please?

Humbly submitted/VM

Francis Xavier

5 years ago

An excellent thought-provoking article. Keep up your great work Mr.Veeresh Malik.

Deepak R Khemani

5 years ago

How does one start?

REPLY

malQ

In Reply to Deepak R Khemani 5 years ago

Dear Deepak R Khemani ji, excellent question, and pre-empts the next article on the subject.

1) Waiting to connect to the grid is going to take a long time in India - even in Delhi, where this was "announced" 8 years ago in the days of President Abul Kalam, nothing has been done so far - even the experimental "farm" by BSES has not gone online.

2) Interim, there are the stand-alone solar LED lights available out of the "Chinese goods" kind of markets in every city (eg: Ghaffar Market in Delhi) for 1000-2000 rupees, or the slightly costlie and bigger kits which will operate a fan and 2-4 lights for about 7500/ rupees from companies like SELCO, COSMOS IGNITE and others.

3) Upcountry, closer to the Chinese/Nepal borders, from Ladakh to the North-East, a bigger range is available - from torches upwards.

My suggestion - get a stand alone solar lamp to start with, keep it in your car or at home, and build an interest. And also look at photo-thermal options for hot water, if supported in your town.

Best of luck/vM

Deepak R Khemani

In Reply to malQ 5 years ago

Will do that. Every citizen to has to start somewhere.

A bigger decline in the offing? Friday Closing Report

As we had suggested on 21st November, the Nifty may see the level of 4,400

A gloomy outlook for the economy portrayed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its policy review, resulted in a sharp fall in the post-noon session. Today the Nifty fell on a huge volume of 66.16 crore shares on the National Stock Exchange (NSE), which is highest in the past 11 trading days (including today). In yesterday’s closing report we mentioned that if the index breaches its intraday low we may see it touching 4,635. Today the benchmark’s mid-session low, the lowest since 5 November 2009, crossed this level. In market closing report dated 21 November 2011, we had mentioned that for the medium-term we may see the Nifty falling to the level of 4,400. (http://www.moneylife.in/article/sensex-nifty-fall-over-25-on-global-cues-monday-closing-report/21588.html). The market is likely to see a further downtrend with the Nifty touching 4,400.

Brushing aside the jitters ahead of the RBI’s mid-quarter monetary policy review, the market opened higher tracking the strengthening rupee against the dollar this morning. Positive global cues also supported the upmove. The Nifty opened seven points up at 4,753 and the Sensex started the day at 15,869, adding 33 points to its previous day’s close. Speculations that the central bank will keep key rates unchanged boosted investor sentiments in early trade.

The market was range-bound in morning trade but pared some of their gains as soon as the policy announcement was out, as contrary to expectations, the RBI kept the cash reserve ratio (CRR) unchanged at 6%. The market was hoping the apex bank would cut the ratio in a bid to infuse liquidity into the system.

Select buying led to a gradual rise, enabling the market hit its intraday high in post-noon trade. At the highs of the day, the Nifty touched 4,816 and the Sensex rose to 16,054. However, a sharp correction on selling in heavy-weights hurtled the benchmarks into the negative terrain, despite a firming trend in the global arena.

The benchmarks touched their intraday lows in late trade with the Nifty at 4,628 and the Sensex tumbling to 15,425. However, the market settled a tad above those levels. The Nifty closed 95 points down at 4,652 and the Sensex plunged 361 points to 15,476.

The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was a negative 376:1287.

Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 1.72% and the BSE Small-cap index fell by 1.60%.

The free-fall in the second half of trade led all sectoral indices lower. The top losers were rate-sensitives like BSE Capital Goods (down4.36%); BSE Realty (down 3.34%); BSE Bankex (down 3.16%); BSE Power (down 2.76%) and BSE Metal (down 2.59%).

Wipro (up 0.15%); Maruti Suzuki (up 0.10%) and Infosys (up 0.07%) were the only gainers in the Sensex list. The losers were led by Larsen & Toubro (down 5.33%); Sterlite Industries (4.28%); Jaiprakash Associates (down 4.06%); NTPC (down 3.91%) and BHEL (down 3.88%).

The main gainers on the Nifty were GAIL (up 4.14%); HCL Technologies (up 0.88%); Grasim Industries (up 0.84%); Dr Reddy’s (up 0.81%) and BPCL (up 0.63%). L&T (down 6.36%); Punjab National Bank (down 5.59%); Reliance Communications (down 5.03%); Axis Bank (5.03%) and JP Associates (down 4.72%) topped the losers’ list.

Markets in Asia were boosted by gains in the US markets overnight. Positive economic triggers from the US took away some of the gloom associated with Europe for the time being. Chinese stocks rose on speculations that the government will lift lending curbs in a bid to check the economy from sliding further.

The Shanghai Composite surged 2.02%; the Hang Seng climbed 1.43%; the Jakarta Composite advanced 1.81%; the Nikkei 225 rose 0.29%; the Straits Times gained 0.91%; the Seoul Composite gained 1.15% and the Taiwan Weighted added 0.30%.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of equities totalling Rs323.28 crore on Thursday. On the other hand, domestic institutional sellers bought shares worth Rs48.09 crore.

JSW Steel today said a Rs 523 crore initial payment from a promoter has been forfeited, as the promoter group entity could not convert warrants worth Rs2,117.5 crore within the permitted time period. The warrants were issued to the promoter entity, Sapphire Technologies, in June 2010 and an initial payment of 25% was made to JSW Steel for the same. The last date for conversion of these 1.75 crore warrants expired yesterday. The stock tumbled 5.65% to Rs507 on the NSE.

Adani Power is set to bring on stream, the entire 4,620-MW proposed thermal power capacity at Mundra by February. The fourth 660 MW super critical unit of the project will be commissioned this month while the final and fifth unit will go on stream in February. The stock declined 3.16% to close at Rs71.95 on the NSE.

Godrej Properties, the real estate development arm of the Godrej Group, has launched two new towers in its township project Godrej Garden City (GGC) in Ahmedabad. These towers, standing 12 storey tall, will offer luxurious 3 BHK apartments each measuring 2,253 sq. ft. The stock gained 1.57% to finish at Rs659.95 on the NSE.

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COMMENTS

Arun Iyer

5 years ago

Our stock market goes up only when inflation and interest rates go up.
As such the real villain responsible for today's precipitous fall is RBI.
No wonder, the politicians and industry captains are highly critical of RBI. Imagine the losses suffered by the 8 million investors - the most important group of liberal India! How dare they be made to suffer like the rest of the citizens? Unfair, unfair!

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