Power minister Prabhu takes reform to the people

Vol 5, PW 22 (19 Dec 01) Midstream & Downstream

India's power sector is sick.

No one acknowledges this more than power minister Suresh Prabhu whose radical Electricity Bill 2001 and Blueprint for Power Sector Reforms could put the sector back on its feet. But new legislation awaits parliament's approval and reform is slow.

Prabhu, 48, has taken the battle to the consumers. How Not through the time-tested formula of public relations firms or newspaper advertisements, but through roadshows across India! He began on 8th August with a slick presentation to PM Vajpayee and finance minister Yashwant Sinha, where he laid bare the problems and the urgency of reform.

Next followed presentations to MPs and newspaper editors. Finally to consumers in the country's 500 electricity distribution regions - a daunting task.

Some 200 engineers were handpicked from National Thermal Power, Power Grid Corporation and other power ministry PSUs. An ambitious target of 2,000 presentations from 15th October to 30th November was set.

"Presentations were made to college students, householders and opinion makers," a source on Prabhu's team tells PETROWATCH. "We spoke about cost of production, distribution, power theft, additional capacity and the need for reform.

We wanted consumers to see the problem, admit its existence and be ready for the solution." Response "We expected hostility but were surprised to find none. People wanted more information."

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