IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
THE much-touted market development programme for solar photovoltaic (SPV) devices, of the Union ministry of non-conventional energy sources (MNES), has blown a fuse, ministry officials admitted at a workshop held in New Delhi recently.
The programme envisaged the production of a range of SPV devices for the urban sector. As a sop to Indian manufacturers, MNES had arranged ready loans, largely from the $55 million aid provided by the World Bank to develop a market.
Industry however, has balked at the offer. Says V Bhakthavatsalam, chief of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), through which the World Bank aid is being funnelled, "We are concerned that in spite of having completed all the pre-project requirements, the programme has not taken off."
MNES has indeed gone all out to convince manufacturers that they would profit considerably by exploiting urban markets. On the basis of a survey commissioned by IREDA, it argued that there is a 1.1 million-strong target group of purchasers for SPV devices. In fact, MNES is touting the purchasing power of this group to justify its plan to reduce subsidies.
Manufacturers, however, demand continued support in the form of subsidies and bulk purchases. R L Anand, president of the Nonconventional Energy Devices Manufacturers Association, points out that, given the high initial cost of SPV devices for the consumer, "aggressive campaigns which will inform the urban middle class of the long-term value of SPV utilities" are needed.
Besides, manufacturers feel that the cost of components will always be high enough to necessitate continued fiscal support from the government. Rajni Patel, of the Ahmedabad-based Sunsolar Industries Limited, even argues for a "drastic slashing of the 10.3 per cent interest on the loans offered by MNES, as well as a cut in customs duties on imported solar cells". Only then would manufacturers risk setting up large-scale production facilities, he felt.
World Bank experts attending the workshop, however, reacted rather ominously. "If industry is indifferent, we will have to move on to other countries," one said.
But the threat made no impact on the industrialists. Selling the sun to urban Indians is just as difficult as selling refrigerator to the Eskimos, they felt.