1 lakh MW power target ecologically unsustainable

New Delhi: Even as the government is mulling setting an ambitious target of creating new power generation capacity of one lakh MW for 12th Plan (2012-17), Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh thinks that is "ecologically unsustainable".

Expressing serious concerns during the full Planning Commission meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month, Ramesh emphasised on correlation between energy, water and environment and said, "it is ecologically unsustainable."

During the meeting, Ramesh had highlighted the need to address structural bottlenecks and pointed out that 15,000 million tonnes of coal lay unused because of evacuation problems and lack of transport facilities, as per the minutes of the meeting of the full Commission held on April 21.

Ramesh`s comments assume significance in the backdrop of the Planning Commission`s assertion in the meeting, "We must set a target of one lakh MW capacity in 12th Plan" to achieve average economic growth of 9-9.5 per cent during the five-year period.

The Commission has admitted that coal availability would be major constraint. But this is also projected by the panel that commercial demand will increase at 7 per cent per annum if Gross Domestic Product grows at 9 per cent.

The Plan panel has pegged GDP growth at 9 to 9.5 per cent for the 12th Plan. Thus, adding one lakh MW new generation capacity in the next five years ending March 2017 would be necessary.