The Budget clearly indicates exciting time for the power sector besides indicating mobilisation of resources by PSUs.
The finance minister has also given a lot of clarity especially in the case of treatment in the case of FDI, which was only getting extended, year by year, has now got a long-term push. This will definitely encourage investors in the sector.
Further, declaration of adequate coal to be made available to all the plants which have been commissioned or are likely to get commissioned by 2015 will attract loans from banking and financial institutions.
The finance minister has mentioned that coal is going to be crushed and supplied, thus putting to rest the disputes regarding quality of coal. Budget also talks of rationalisation of Customs Duty on all types of coal.
Encouragement for developing more efficient boiler which NTPC has already been doing in collaboration with BHEL and IGCAR and providing Rs 100 crore for R&D on advanced supercritical, direction for funding or supporting coal-based methane project would go a long way in supporting power generation through coal which is our only source of domestic fuel.
A lot of encouragement has also been given to the new and renewable energy, in addition to announcing Rs 500 crore to support Solar Mission in Ladakh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat etc. There are a lot of sops for the manufacturers of solar equipments, which will definitely help domestic manufacturers and reduce the cost of solar equipments.
NTPC has already been supporting Inland Waterways Authority of India in developing waterways transportation. It has already become a reality in terms of imported coal being transported from Haldia to Farakka and then to Barh project. In addition, there are many associated schemes which were announced and which become relevant for NTPC in view of its social and CSR activities.
Initiatives like Beti Bachao Yojna, Nilanchal Water Shed Scheme, National Rural Drinking Water Scheme, free drug service, free diagnostic service, 100 virtual class rooms, community radio stations, farmers markets etc. are the areas which can add to the wide repertoire to NTPC community development activities.
Although details and implementation of the Budget will be known in the times to come, there are one or two areas of concern especially increase of Clean Energy Cess from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per MT, increase in royalty on coal and the effects of increase of freight through Railway Budget. Ramifications of these would only be known in the times to come.
The writer is Chairman & Managing Director, NTPC Limited