Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the National Solar Mission as part of the government’s overall strategy to cut down the country’s carbon footprint.
According to this report, a parliamentary panel has expressed concern over slow progress of the mission.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), headed by National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, is the government’s nodal agency implementing the solar mission that aims at setting up 20,000 Mw of solar power generating capacity in the country over the next decade.
The panel has stated that solar projects of only 220 Mw capacity have been allocated so far under the mission against a target of 1,100 Mw in the first phase that ends in 2013. This “quite insufficient” pace is “rather discouraging to give a thumping start to the ambitious solar mission of the government,” the panel has said in its report tabled in Parliament this week. “Against this backdrop, the committee places its apprehension about the achievement of first phase targets and recommends that the ministry should plan in advance so that it may not be behind the first phase target at least,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has pointed out.
In its reply, MNRE had contended that the target of 1,100 Mw and the fund requirement had been spread over three years and that the first batch of grid solar projects of 200 Mw capacity were to be allocated during 2010-11.
The report analyses the actions taken by the government on the panel’s earlier recommendations on the ministry’s demand for grants for the current financial year. The panel had made a total of 10 recommendations in its April 2010 report. In that report, the committee had expressed concern about the achievement of the set target of 1,100 Mw by 2013, citing the “past performance of the government in the solar grid sector where a meagre 8.2 Mw of grid capacity could be achieved during the 11th Plan so far”.
MNRE said a total of 220 Mw capacity grid-connected projects had been allocated so far. Seven projects of 14 Mw capacity had been installed in the last one year, which is a satisfactory beginning, considering that small projects of 2.2 Mw were installed in the country before that.
Through its latest report, that followed the ministry’s action taken report, the panel has called allocation of only 220 Mw capacity in the first year discouraging.
Panchabuta believes that the Panels concerns warrant attention and the MNRE’s cautious approach should not lead to inordinate delays. Already, Gujarat seems to be leading the way in terms of policy, installations, capacity and execution.