Thursday, January 27, 2011

Subsidized Kerosene root cause for Corruption & Crime

Subsidy to Kerosene


The unsustainable subsidy to Kerosene is being continued by successive Governments at the Center, justifying that it is primarily required to protect the poor consumers, particularly in rural areas, so that they may afford for lighting and clean cooking fuel.


 It is reported that only 1.3% of rural households use kerosene for cooking and even the percentage of households using Kerosene for lighting must have gone down drastically, as BPL households are being connected to power grid under RGGVY programme. The recurring subsidy burden on Kerosene for lighting purposes, can altogether be eliminated, by supplying stand alone solar powered LED Lanterns with Lithium Ion batteries with long life span, for un electrified rural households through MNRE.


Thriving Black Market in Kerosene


 It is a well known fact that large scale diversion of subsidized kerosene has been taking place through out the country all these years because of large price difference between PDS Kerosene. and Diesel / other fuels. The interim report of NCAER in 2005-06 had put the estimated annual value of the black-market at Rs 10, 000 Crores. Around the same time NIPFP is reported to have said that Kerosene and cooking gas subsidies benefit Semi-urban &Urban communities more, respectively, rather than the Rural Poor. 


Assuming that about 40% of 9 to 10 million tons PDS Kerosene being supplied annually is flowing into illegal trade, it works out to be almost 4 million tons or 5200,000,000 Ltrs in the parallel market. At around Rs 30 per Ltr in the open market, this black market trade is worth Rs 15, 600 Crores annually.


Mafia Vs Rule of Law


Be it Oil Mafia, Real-estate Mafia, Drug mafia, Liquor mafia, Mining mafia, Corporate mafia etc,   they always have the final say, because they have the easy access to the Policy and Decision Makers to manipulate the regulating and law enforcing agencies to their advantage. As long as these mafias can thrive, there is no way to cracking down or crushing them, in the present state of affairs, with poor regulatory systems and lack of good-governance




The only way to eradicate this evil is to eliminate the root cause, for survival of Oil mafia, namely the removal of unsustainable subsidy to Kerosene, which gives it undue price advantage against other fuels. It is nearly one year, since the Expert Group submitted its report on "Pricing of Petroleum Products" recommending the rise in PDS price of Kerosene to Rs 15 per Ltr and revise every year there after.


This needs to be acted upon immediately, if not scrapping the subsidy altogether, which is the breeding ground for the Oil Mafia. Otherwise, we will be playing with the lives of many more honest and committed officers like Yeshwant Sonawane, Additional. District Collector, of Maharashtra State. 




Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do We Need 8,00,000 MW Capacity by 2031-32?

Integrated Energy Policy

The Integrated Energy Policy ( IEP) document of the Expert Committee of Planning Commission of India, projected huge growth of power installed/generating capacity to 8,00,000 MW by 2031-32(about 5 times from the present level), to sustain annual growth rate of 8% to 10% .for the next 20 to 25 years. The main focus of the policy seems to be the use/consumption of energy with "Supply Syndrome", rather than the thrust on efficient energy use & associated environmental concerns.

The policy emphasizes that Coal shall remain most important energy source till 2031-32, requiring two billion tons of coal/ annum. Accordingly the capacity of coal based power plants is projected as 6,00,000 MW by 2031-32, nearly seven times the present capacity.

Coal Based Power Plants at the Cost of Environment

The Parliamentary Standing Committee ( PSC) on Science & Technology and Environment & Forests, in its 192 Report submitted to the Parliament, observed that the share of SPM load caused by Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) is about 82% of the total Industrial Pollution. It is also observed that the Committee is aware of the importance of energy & power as the main driving force in the process of economic development, but at the same time it feels that the country can not afford to ignore and neglect the importance of environment. It, therefore, emphasized the need to switch over to green sources of energy, as a long term solution of energy requirements.

In addition to the adverse impacts of SPM caused by TPPs, the problems of Mercury, NoX, SO2 etc, and their impacts on marine & coastal ecology and the communities dependent on them are enormous. The other aspect is the destruction of ecologically sensitive natural resources- Mangroves, Wetlands etc- by the coast based TPPs..

Cautioning against the way development is being pursued in India, Prof.Elinor Ostram, Noble Laureate in Economics (2009) is reported to have said in Hyderabad "If we feel that eliminating poverty is only accomplished by building Power Plants and all the rest, rather than enabling people to develop resources in ways that are less destructive of the environment, the problem will get worse"

Coal Mines & Impacts on Forests & Tribals

The diversion of forests & forest lands for Coal Mining & Power Projects, often leads to displacement of scheduled tribes & other traditional forest dwellers, depriving Forest Rights of over 200 million people, who depend on forests for their livelihood. The seriousness of the issue is highlighted by the Ministerial Committee constituted by the Prime Minister, to resolve the Coal vs Forest tussle over "No-Go" Zones.

The scraping of Lemru Elephant Reserve in Kobra by Chhattisgarh government for Coal Mining is one of the many cases of destroying forests and wildlife in the name of development. The programmes that seek to compensate for the deforestation taking place in the name of development projects by planted varieties appear to be dubious. The possibility of corruption in such programs with huge amounts of money going into them is also very high.

Syndrome of Capacity Addition

The linking of energy consumption/supply with the growth rate embodied the Myth that economic vitality requires steadily increasing energy consumption. The Nation's Energy Security depends on efficient use of Energy Services that maximize economic competitiveness and minimize environmental degradation / impacts.

In spite of comparatively low per capita energy consumption, the energy intensity (consumption per unit of GDP) is high compared to Japan, the US, & Asia, by 3.7, 1.55 & 1.47 times respectively. This indicates inefficient use of energy in India, with a substantial scope for energy savings, even at lower per capita consumption. It is suicidal trying to target for higher per capita energy consumption, to sustain annual growth rate based on high energy intensity. It is a better option to bring down the energy intensity by energy efficiency measures and to suppress the demand, through cost effective & eco-friendly technological innovations.

SSM & DSM Measures

It is worthwhile to focus on Supply Side Management (SSM) Measures, for improving Thermal Efficiency of Boilers & PLF of the existing TPPs & cutting down their Captive Consumption and bringing down Transmission & Distribution Losses and improvement of network Power Factor to International standards by the Power Utilities. At present the metered and billed energy is estimated to be less than 50% of the energy handled by the power utilities. As a result the bulk of the energy generated by the Power Plants is not reaching the consumers/ not being metered and billed.

Whatever the energy received by the consumers and billed, is being wasted, partly due to energy inefficient devices, appliances, equipment, process, technology, practices /habits etc adopted/used by the consumers. It is estimated that there is energy saving potential to an extent of 20 to 25% by adopting suitable/appropriate Demand Side Management (DSM) Measures.

Any capacity additions, without improving, the performance/efficiency of the power utilities by suitable SSM Measures and the energy efficiency by DSM Measures, is like pouring water into a pot with holes, going down the drain. Before undertaking massive increase of installed capacities at huge financial costs and enormous adverse environmental and social impacts, it is worth considering by the Planning Commission, for adequate investments in SSM and DSM measures as "Energy Conservation" is the fastest and the cheapest way of making available Clean Energy.

Clean Energy from Renewable Sources

In view of local environmental issues and Global Warming impacts of fossil fuels, particularly Coal, it is the right time to lean towards alternate energy sources such as Solar, Wind, Fuel Cell and other Renewables on a decentralized basis, rather than through centralized, large size units based on Coal & Nuclear, which should be confined to cater for the Base Load requirements only. Taking into account the Economic Costs of Coal Based Power and Nuclear Power-A Very Expensive, Sophisticated and Dangerous Way to Boil Water- which should include all benefits and costs incurred for the Society by their fuel, generation and use during the entire life cycle, the Solar Power may prove to be cheaper even today.

The Environmental Costs

The assertion that Environmental Protection costs too much, is misleading. The only thing that costs too much is neglecting Environmental Protection, having the society to pay an unimaginable price in Blood, for the benefit of the Polluter who should have been made to pay. The Economic Development may have Environmental Impacts, but the Economic Impacts of the Environmental Problems are also significant, which should not be permitted to be passed on to Elsewhere and to the Future.

Small & Decentralized Power Plants

Concentration of Large Size TPPs at one place in coastal area, like the other polluting industries, may not be desirable because of the constraints & the problems associated with transportation of coal & evacuation of energy to the load centers, over long distances and the adverse impacts of TPPs on marine environment & the coastal communities.

The decentralized medium and small size Power Plants preferably based on locally available inputs/renewable sources, will reduce transmission and distribution losses. They would also help in reducing the unacceptable levels of urban-rural disparity prevailing in power distribution, catering for Urban Wants/ Luxuries (Greed) and ignoring the genuine Rural Needs. The decentralized stand alone units in the vicinity may be cared for and preferred by the Rural Communities.

Extract from THE ECONOMIST

"THOMAS EDISON was a man of great foresight, but who would have thought he could have been more than 100 years ahead of his time? When he set up his first heat-and-electricity plant near Wall Street in 1882, he imagined a world of micropower. Edison thought the best way to meet customers' needs would be with networks of nimble, decentralized power plants in or near homes and offices. What goes around comes around. After a century that seemed to prove Edison wrong—with power stations getting ever bigger, and the transmission grids needed to distribute their product ranging ever wider—local generation for local consumption is back in fashion"

The dawn of micropower


Much of the world gets its electricity from big, inefficient and dirty power plants situated far from consumers. That will soon change


Saturday, January 1, 2011

One More New Year -2011

The time waits for no one. The entry into New Year 2011 brings a time of reflection – an affectionate glance at the pleasant memories and a meaningful & purposeful scrutiny and evaluation of unpleasant events of the past year, as well as a hopeful look at the promise of the New Year.


The pleasant memories of 2010, to mention a few, - Improvement of bilateral relations with other nations demonstrated by the visits of many heads of state to India and our PM's visits to many countries, the commendable performance of the Indian Sports Persons etc  were something noteworthy.




On the global front, whistle-blower website Wikileaks has been releasing classified messages sent out by American diplomats from across the world to the US Administration, and many of these leaks have caused a furor in many countries, including India


Scams Prior to 2010


The problem of corruption in India has assumed enormous and embarrassing proportions in recent years, although it has been with us for decades.  In the past the big league of scams in India included Bofors, Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh, Telgi (fake stamp)  the UTI  and Satyam Scams. The Satyam fraud ( Rs 14, 000 Crore) was the biggest in many years, in the list of the largest scams. 


Scams in 2010


Going by the estimated size of the Scams-  2G, CWG, IPL, LICHF, Adarsh etc-  surfaced during 2010, the total for the year  could be well beyond Rs 2,00,000 Crore -- a 13-digit figure -- although much of the loss is presumptive in nature. The scam with the shortest name -- 2G -- alone, according to various accounts, deprived the government coffers of Rs 1.76 Lakh Crore in potential revenue.    This scam is said to be only the tip of the iceberg.

Infamous Nexus


There are many more scams in the States of Karnataka, Andhra & Jharkhand involving Mining, Land Grabbing etc, exposing the infamous nexus between Politicians, Bureaucrats and Corporates/Builders/Contractors. This Nexus is becoming stronger and all powerful year after year , in spite of aft repeated assurances by the Politicians in power "No Body Would Be Spared", "Guilty Would be Punished" and "Law Will Take Its Course:"


 Disillusioned & Indifferent Public


It is the public knowledge that the ill-gotten wealth, had not been confiscated from any of those from the nexus found guilty, nor there had been any swift and harsh penal action against them and the enquiries drag on for years and are forgotten.


Every one including the man in the streets knows about Rampant Corruption, at almost all the levels of the Administration, large scale Tax Evasion, Circulation of Black Money in all most all transactions, Bogus Land Registrations/Transactions, Clandestine Transfer of Black Money to Foreign Banks etc.


Are we to believe that the people at the helm of affairs, both the Politicians and Bureaucrats, with access to information from the Enforcing Agencies, Intelligence Agency, CBI etc, are not aware of these hard realities of life and are helpless to unearth and stop them?


Unfortunately the Public also got used to and had become a part of this corrupt system as they do not choose to swim against the stream, till they find that they are being washed away by the stream of all pervading corruption.


Welcome Initiatives

Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of UPA, has launched a crackdown on corruption in her ruling Congress Party to staunch the growing number of scandals besetting the government. She is reported to have warned her senior party colleagues that they must clean up their act,

She called for a fast-track system for corruption cases to be heard in courts, new transparent procedures for the award of public contracts, greater protection for whistle-blowers and for Chief Ministers in Congress-ruled states to give up their privileges, particularly the discretionary powers to award plots of land "As a party, we must confront corruption head-on, the simplicity, restraint and austerity must be our chosen way," she told the party's high command.

In a gesture to the growing public disenchantment over scams and corruption in public life, Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh's New Year resolutions for 2011 include "Cleansing" the country's governing process. 

Promise of the New Year


Let us hope for a brighter New Year, with the  "Crack-Down on Corruption" and "Cleansing the Governing Process" put into action right from the top and  with renewed sense of what is more important-- Commitment to Welfare of People, Compassion for Nature and Concern for Sustainable and Inclusive Development, in the Year 2011 and the years to follow.