Though it was envisaged that 42,000MW of power capacity addition would take place during the Tenth Plan, only half of the target could be achieved because of many shortcomings
Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has stressed on the need for creating confidence among foreign investors to attract FDI in the power sector, reports PTI.
"Despite making provisions for 100% FDI in the power sector under the Electricity Act, 2003, there was not much response. But now we have taken many corrective steps to help the power sector grow, which is restoring confidence among foreign investors," Shinde said at the signing of a joint venture (JV) agreement between Sembcorp Utilities of Singapore and Hyderabad-based Gayatri Energy Ventures Private Limited in Hyderabad today.
"Sembcorp is the first foreign company to invest in the power sector in India in the last four-and-a-half years," the minister, said referring to the JV that is setting up a 2,640-MW super-critical thermal power plant at Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
While Gayatri will have the majority 51% stake in the JV, Sembcorp will hold the balance.
Mr Shinde recalled that immediately upon assuming power in 2004, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had pumped in Rs10,000 crore to revive the Dabhol power project (now known as Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Ltd).
"Prime minister Manmohan Singh is very particular that the country's image should not suffer and hence, we pumped Rs10,000 crore to get the power plant running at Ratnagiri," he pointed out.
Stating that the government had done a lot of "introspection" into what was ailing the power sector, the Mr Shinde said many corrective steps were taken to put things back on track.
Though it was envisaged that 42,000 MW of power capacity addition would take place during the Tenth Plan, only half of the target could be achieved because of many shortcomings.
"Primarily, there was no monitoring of the projects and orders for equipment were not placed in time. Besides, BHEL did not have adequate capacity to meet the needs, leading to inordinate delays in execution of projects," Mr Shinde said.
Now, BHEL has gone in for a massive capacity expansion, while three monitoring committees were set up at different levels to ensure that power projects were executed in time, the minister added.
With the expansion projects in full swing, Mr Shinde said every household in the country would get electricity by the year 2012.
The per capita power consumption in the country would also simultaneously go up to 1,000 WH from the present 700 WH, he added.
The Department of Commerce will come out with a strategy paper to increase exports to Africa, which accounted for $8.36 billion, or less than 6% of India's exports, in the first 11 months of the 2009-10 financial year
India will focus on making Africa a major export market and increase trade with African nations amid the fragile global economic recovery and persistent financial woes in Europe, reports PTI.
"We are preparing a strategy paper on Africa with an aim at increasing our exports to the continent," a commerce ministry official said.
The Department of Commerce will come out with a strategy paper to increase exports to Africa, which accounted for $8.36 billion, or less than 6% of India's exports, in the first 11 months of the 2009-10 financial year.
For this purpose, an analysis of the major commodities exported to the Africa region, including a strategy for exports over the coming years, is required, he said.
Different export promotion councils have been asked to come out with policies to expand exports to Africa.
In the Foreign Trade Policy for 2009-14, market-linked incentives for exports to several African countries were announced.
While shipments to the South, East and West African regions were in the range of $2.6 billion during the April-January, 2010, period, exports to the central part of the continent remain dismal. Exports to Central Africa stood at a meagre $278 million.
India largely exports pharmaceutical products, minerals, plastics, cotton, garments, iron and steel.
In the wake of the global financial meltdown, domestic exports were among the worst hit, forcing the government to come out with various stimulus measures. The slow and fragile economic recovery, especially in developed markets like the US and Europe, continues to be a concern for Indian exporters.
Three flights each from Kolkata and Mumbai and four from Delhi were cancelled as the employees, including engineers and ground staff, staged demonstrations at various airports to protest the delay in payment of salaries for the month of May
At least 10 flights of Air India (AI) were cancelled today as a section of employees of the airline, including engineers, went on a flash strike across the country to protest delay in payment of salaries, reports PTI.
Civil aviation minister Praful Patel held a meeting with Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav to take stock of the situation, official sources said.
Three flights each from Kolkata and Mumbai and four from Delhi were cancelled as the employees, including engineers and ground staff, walked out of their offices this afternoon and staged demonstrations at airports in different parts of the country.
"We have begun a flash strike to protest the delay in payment of salaries and highlight the problems of the cabin crew, after the management refused to pay heed to our demands," Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) general secretary J B Kadian told reporters in New Delhi.
Air India had recently decided that the May salaries would be delayed by a week.
Kadian said the management had issued "gag order" against leaders of all unions of Air India by asking them not to go public with their problems and termed the move as "anti-democratic".
The ACEU claims representation of 12,000 members of the erstwhile Indian Airlines including ground-handling and technical staff and cabin crew.
In Mumbai, ACEU president Dinakar Shetty demanded an immediate withdrawal of the "gag order" saying that it was an infringement on the right to freedom of speech. The employees would not return to work unless the order was withdrawn, Mr Shetty said.
An official circular, issued last evening, said "instances have come to the notice (of the management) that contrary to instruction issued under office order HQ-81-3/360 July 2009, 13 employees of the company holding positions of office-bearers of unions/associations/guild are freely airing their views to the media despite channels of communication existing with the company to voice their grievances.
"Employees concerned are advised to forthwith refrain from going public with their statements that have potential to harm the company's image and revenue prospects, failing which action as deemed appropriate will be taken," the circular said.
The union had served a strike notice on the management and the Chief Labour Commissioner on May 15 against Air India's decision to defer salary payments. However, that notice had called for a strike from 31st May.
Unions belonging to the international wing of Air India have not gone on strike on this issue so far.
ACEU is part of the Civil Aviation Joint Action Front (CAJAF), a joint platform of 11 recognised trade unions in National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL).