Don't waste D6 gas to generate electricity: Andhra

Vol 13, PW 6 (27 Aug 09) People & Policy

Clean air using CNG and raising living standards by delivering piped gas to homes is a better way to use D6 gas than wasting it on power generation.

So believes DA Somayajulu (left), chief economic advisor to Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy. In Hyderabad 56-year old Somayajulu is no ordinary mortal.

Son of a government schoolteacher, he was plucked out of obscurity in 2004 as managing director of the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation (APIDC) to write the controversial â€کfree power to farmers’ Congress manifesto that swept chief minister Reddy to power, replacing Chandrababu Naidu. “In Gujarat it took 28 years to deliver gas to 200,000 households and 50,000 vehicles,â€‌ Somayajulu tells this report.

“That’s too long; we want to do it in three or four years!â€‌ A technocrat, Somayajulu holds state cabinet rank and is widely recognised as Reddy’s closest advisor on all things economic, writing most of his speeches, and meeting him up to three times a week in cabinet. “If you defer two power projects you save enough gas to meet the whole CGD requirement of India!â€‌ stresses Somayajulu.

“Gas should be used to substitute LPG, petrol and diesel for industry and vehicles, and naphtha for fertiliser companies. Only then can you bring down the national trade deficit.

â€‌ Such talk doesn’t win Somayajulu friends among Andhra power producers but his advice is eagerly sought among the high and mighty across India. Among several phone calls received during a one-hour interview at his residence with this report was one from DV Subbarao, governor of the Reserve Bank of India! With eyes fixed on PC screen, Somayajulu reels off indisputable numbers to support his case that coal, and not gas, is the most cost-effective means to generate power.

“Gas should not be used for power generation,â€‌ he adds. “Even imported coal is cheaper than gas.