PMO: Meet on thermal, gas power projects this week

New Delhi: Taking forward its recent initiatives to address the power sector woes, the Prime Minister`s Office is likely to hold meetings with officials from Power, Coal and Petroleum Ministries this week to discuss issues related to thermal and gas-based projects.

Prime Minister`s Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee is likely to hold the meetings, where he would discuss the issues faced by the thermal power producers with the officials from the power and coal ministries, sources said.

Separately, he would meet the officials of the petroleum and power ministries with regard to gas-based power projects, sources said.

These meetings come less than two weeks after an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) decided not to divert gas from non-priority sectors to electricity plants.

Allocation of gas, environmental clearance for coal blocks and import of coal, are among the issues that are likely to come up for discussions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January constituted a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by Pulok Chatterji to look into issues impacting the power sector.

The panel during their meeting on February 1 announced that Coal India would sign fuel supply pacts for power projects for a period of 20 years and the decision was taken at a meeting of the CoS.

On February 22, top executives of private power firms, including Reliance Power`s Anil Ambani and Tata Power`s Cyrus Mistry, had a meeting with the CoS.

At that meeting, among others, private power producers sought allocation of gas for all projects recommended by the Power Ministry — 25 mmcmd for a capacity of 6,500 MW — apart from assurance of supply for remaining projects that would be completed in 2012-13.

Prior to that, the top power sector executives had called on the Prime Minister, as also other senior policy makers, in January to apprise him of the sector woes.

The power companies say that a raft of issues, including severe fuel shortages, high coal prices and delay in green clearances are hurting the sector. The government expects to add about 80,000 MW power generation capacity in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) and the sector has been identified as a key growth driver for the economy.