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Land acquisition for green power? 'Worst decision' by Union govt on environment

 
By Shankar Sharma* 
This has reference to a news report which says that the Central government is looking for land acquisition for 500 GW green power projects. Only a few days ago, a recent amendment seeking to implement the Time-of-Day (TOD) metering system to optimise the usage of electricity across the country so as to minimise the overall societal level costs, was welcomed as one of the best decisions to be implemented to improve the overall performance of electricity sector in the country in recent years. It was long overdue.

The reported decision the news seeking states to focus on land acquisition to meet 500 GW green power target by 2030, can also be deemed as one of the worst decisions by the Union govt. against the overall interest of the environment and hence our people.
Acquisition of such large chunks of land, running into many thousands of acres in total, cannot make such projects truly green in an overall perspective; especially in the larger context that the decentralised renewal energy (RE) projects such as rooftop Solar PV systems, have humongous potential in our country. They also can overcome many of the chronic issues confronting the power sector today, such as leading to vast reduction in the financial burden of the state, and in minimising the technical and commercial losses in electricity transmission and distribution.
It is deplorable that despite numerous articles, reports, opinion pieces, which have strongly advocated for the widespread usage of rooftop Solar PV systems, the Union govt. has not come out with any policy analysis paper as to why the large size RE projects such as land based solar power parks are being preferred. The keen observers of the power sector tend to associate such a lack of clarity in the case of the Power Ministry with many undesirable vested interest possibilities.
Will RK Singh, Union Minister for Power, urge ask the officials of ministry and the NITI Aayog to diligently consider all these associated issues and issue a diligently prepared policy paper along with a National Energy Policy?
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*Power & Climate Policy Analyst. Based on the author's representation to RK Singh, Union Minister for Power, GOI, New Delhi, with copies to Vice-Chairperson, NITI Aayog, Union Finance Minister, Union Minister for EF&CC, and Prime Minister

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