State power ministers will meet in New Delhi on Wednesday to try and resolve issues that are plaguing the sector. Key issues to be taken up at the seventh conference of power ministers include speedy implementation of schemes such as the rural electrification programme, accelerating measure to plug transmission and distribution losses, a model state electricity distribution responsibility Bill and strengthening the electricity transmission network, central power ministry officials said.
"One of the other issues is to fill the vacancies in the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions," said a power ministry official requesting anonymity.
The seventh conference of power ministers will take place against the backdrop of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government expanding the scope of audits and introducing new measures to speed up the roll-out of its ambitious plan to provide electricity to villages and below poverty line (BPL) households ahead of general election due in 2014.
The Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana was introduced in April 2005 as part of the Bharat Nirman project to develop rural infrastructure, at an initial project cost of Rs.1.76 trillion.
India needs to plug the leaks in a power sector that's unable to meet demand, especially in the backdrop of government efforts to revive flagging economic growth. Grid failures for two days in a row last year led to large parts of northern, eastern and north-eastern India being hit by a blackout.
India's power sector, capable of generating 225,793.1 megawatts, has been hit by high borrowing costs, a funding crunch, delays in land acquisition and project approvals such as environmental clearances, and a fuel shortages.
Losses due to transmission and billing inefficiencies and theft are estimated at around 27%. The accelerated power development and reform programme (APDRP) was launched in 2002-03 to upgrade distribution systems and cut transmission and distribution losses to 15% by the end of 2007, but failed. A restructured version of this, the Rs.51,577 crore R-APDRP, was introduced in 2008.