Meet The New Power Minister who stepped into big shoes of Piyush Goyal

26 years down the line he is sitting in the same BJP camp, Singh has stepped into the big shoes of Piyush Goel as power minister.

power minister RK SIngh

All You Need to Know About the New Power Minister R. K SINGH

From stopping Somnath to Ayodhya Rath Yatra, arresting LK Advani as a district magistrate on the orders of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1990 and as the home secretary overseeing right-wing inquiries under P Chidambaram to taking on the next home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and even slamming his own party over Bihar defeat, bureaucrat-turned-politician Raj Kumar Singh’s life has come full circle. 26 years down the line he is sitting in the same BJP camp, Singh has stepped into the shoes of Piyush Goel as power minister.

Soon after BJP after his retirement, Singh distanced himself from the issue and went on to say he is on the same nationalistic wavelength as RSS. His dislike for the UPA was in full flow when he contested from Ara in Bihar in 2014 and defeating his nearest rival by over 1.35 lakhs votes. Singh earned success throughout his memorable career and is known for his no-nonsense attitude, he left his footprints everywhere he served.

He is credited with turnaround of Bihar’s roads during Nitish’s first tenure as chief minister. Singh served as the principal secretary of Department of Roads & turned Bihar’s potholed roads into ones that were at least motorable.

Singh also paddled into the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, asserting that she was a terrorist. He then claimed that due to political reasons the affidavit filed in the Ishrat Jahan case was changed.

Singh later moved to Delhi on central deputation and served in the Ministry of Defence Production. There, he red-flagged the Tatra-BEML deals. As union home secretary, he was instrumental in sending 2008 Mumbai terror suspect Kasab to the gallows.

He also embarrassed the UPA regime by being vocal against Sushil Kumar Shinde and P Chidambaram over interference in Delhi police postings and the Afzal Guru controversies respectively. Known as an expert on internal security matters, he was instrumental in the crackdown on terror and naxalism under the UPA regime.

Looking into his track record, ministry of power will be the ministry to watch for and the actions and surprises that he carries along with him.

He said

“Piyush Goel has made my challenge easier by finishing the bulk of the work here. I have to take it to the finishing line in 2017.”

“We have objectives. The ministry will attain its objectives on time. We have to electrify (the unelectrified villages) within a set time frame. I have worked as a public servant at different places. I have handled law and order in Bihar. All these things have filled me with confidence to attain my goals. I am quite certain that I will live up to the expectations.”

Expectation

Former Renewable Energy, Mine and Power minister Piyush Goyal during his 40 months tenure initiated important supply side reforms including allocation of coal linkages, increase in domestic coal production, solar parks policy and green corridors program. According to Bridge to India in this time, thermal power capacity has grown by 60 GW, renewable power capacity by 23 GW and transmission capacity by an aggregate of 25%. Not accounting for latent power demand, these steps have turned India from chronically power deficit to a power surplus country.

  • Surplus power situation, if not addressed through adequate demand side reforms, will affect renewable sector prospects;
  • Rural electrification is unlikely to result in any tangible growth in power demand but may actually increase financial burden on DISCOMs;
  • The incoming minister’s priorities should be to rationalize pricing of power, enforce operational improvements in DISCOMs, deal with the ‘Make in India’ conundrum and improve investor confidence in the sector;

Birdge to India notes that power pricing and demand side reforms have not kept pace. Despite UDAY scheme’s success in eliminating USD 36 billion of debt from DISCOMs and rapid electrification agenda, power demand has grown by a CAGR of only 4.5% in the last three years. Thermal power plants are now operating at average PLF of less than 60% as against an expected 75-80%. Resulting stress is percolating to other parts of the sector including renewables where many tenders have been scrapped and PPAs face the risk of renegotiation. The Finance Ministry has called for rationalization of renewable capacity addition and we believe that utility scale solar capacity addition will slow down over the next two years. Now, the government is moving to restrict open access market (elaborated below). These quick fixes may help thermal IPPs and DISCOMs in the short-term, but are bound to hurt renewable energy prospects.

As the government pushes ‘Make in India,’ focus for the new minister should be power pricing reforms to make manufacturing more competitive and boost power demand. It is worth noting here that power tariffs for industrial consumers are higher in India than in many western economies.

Other pressing issues of the hour are anti-dumping duty petition for solar module imports and flagging investor confidence in the sector. Many leading international and Indian investors have entered this market attracted by large scale and strong government commitment. They need validation of their business strategy and reassurance that contracts will be duly enforced to protect their interest said the firm.

Consultation paper on open access seeks to further restrict the market

The Ministry of Power has released a consultation paper on open access market. The paper primarily focusses on issues faced by DISCOMs as a result of liberalizing open access – loss of business, stranded assets and other operational difficulties. The paper contends that cross subsidy surcharge (CSS) and additional surcharges are not being calculated correctly leading to under recovery of expenses by DISCOMs. It recommends more stringent scheduling restrictions for open access customers and makes suggestions for computation of CSS, additional surcharge and standby charges. We believe that these recommendations will further increase complexity and cost of open access based power said the research firm.

Other Information

District Magistrate, East Champaran 1981 – 1983; District Magistrate, Patna 1983-1985; Director and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Defence 1991 – 1996; Home Secretary, Govt. of Bihar 1997 – 1999; Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India 2000 – 2005; Principal Secretary, Road Construction Department, Govt. of Bihar 2006 – 2009; Secretary Production, Govt. Of India 2009 – 2011; Union Home Secretary from 2011 to June, 2013

Joined the IPS in 1974 and the IAS in 1975;

Was District Magistrate of East Champaran from 1981-1983;

Was District Magistrate of Patna from 1983-1985 and the riots which erupted after the assassination of the then Late Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi was brought under control in two days;

When there were numerous escapes from prison, I was posted as Inspector General of Prisons;

Was Administrator of the State Cooperative Marketing Federation. State Cabinet commended the way fertilizer availability was ensured and prices kept in check;

Joined the Ministry of Defence, Government of India in 1991 was Director and thereafter Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence. Handled Operation and Intelligence (G Branch) as Director. Did the NDC Course;

In 1997 joined the Bihar State Govt.; Was Commissioner, Patna Division for a brief period, and thereafter was Home Secretary of the State from 1997-1999.

Came back to Government of India in 2000. Was Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs from 2000-2005. Revamped the Scheme for Police Modernization and started the Scheme for Prison Modernization. Laid down the framework for Disaster Management. Started the NDRF.

Went back to the State after the Central tenure got over. Was Principal Secretary, Road Construction Department of the State from 2006-2009. Transformed the road network of the State from being one of the worst in the country to being one of the best in the country.

Came to the Government of India as Secretary, Department of Defence Production in 2009. As Secretary, Defence Production (2009-2011) ensured that the production from Ordance Factories, Defence Shipyards, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and other Defence Manufacturing facilities touched record levels.

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