Welcome return of Kumaramangalam as power minister

Vol 3, PW 20 (27 Oct 99) People & Policy

There is no change at the Ministry of Power, which sees the return of the able minister Rangarajan Kumaramangalam (nickname Ranga) as minister.

Aged 46, Kumaramangalams reputation as an aggressive reformer is reflected in his first statement on reassuming his old job. "Power is like any other commodity which has a price.

It cannot be supplied to consumers free. Reform in the power sector will mean a reduction of subsidies".

Kumaramangalams return to the Ministry of Power will ensure an element of continuity. "The last regime saw more action on the policy-making front", Kumaramangalam told a press conference shortly after being sworn in, "This time around it will be implementation".

Kumaramangalam has set out an ambitious list of priorities for his ministry over the next 100 days: To set a deadline for the Pipavav mega power project in Gujarat, which is under bidding. To mandate the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation to undertake a study of a proposed 11,000-MW project in Arunachel Pradesh.

To accelerate reform of the State Electricity Boards (SEB) by providing commercial assistance To prepare the details of a Cess Bill and Energy Conservation Bill for approval by parliament. To resolve a dispute between the Power Grid Corporation of India and northeastern Indian states over transmission costs To achieve financial closure for the 3,960-MW Hirma mega power project in Orissa, the first mega power project in the country.

Kumaramangalam stressed his reformist credentials at a conference in Singapore on Wednesday (20th October) when he repeated a pledge to undertake massive structural reform of the Indian power sector. It is indicative of the governments determination to move fast with power sector reforms that Kumaramangalam, out of all the Indian cabinet ministers, was chosen by prime minister Vajpayee to lead the Indian business delegation to the 1999 East Asia Economic Summit organised by the World Economic Forum in Singapore.