* Top power executives to meet prime minister on Wednesday
* Companies seek better access to fuel, funding
* Industry's problems slowing addition of capacity
NEW DELHI, Jan 16 Top executives from
India's major power companies will meet Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh on Wednesday to push for swifter action to improve access
to coal and make it easier to get funding, acquire land and get
Lack of progress on such issues has held up projects and
threatens India's economic growth.
Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata, his deputy Cyrus
Mistry, Reliance Power Chairman Anil Ambani, Adani
Power Chairman Gautam Adani and top executives from
other private power firms will be part of the delegation,
organised by the Association of Power Producers.
The executives will also meet ministers in charge of
finance, coal, petroleum and environment on the same day.
"The basic issues in the power sector are not being resolved
and are impacting generation programmes. The companies will seek
quick redressal," Ashok Khurana, director general at the
Association of Power Producers, told Reuters.
Policy gridlock in India, which has resulted in little
economic reforms in the past few years, has crimped investment
and contributed to a slowing of the economy.
Late last year, Singh met top executives from the
telecommunications sector to hear their concerns about
A shortage of coal and gas and uncertainty over supply have
thrown the business plans of the generators into disarray and
made lenders reluctant to lend, delaying projects.
Tata Power and Reliance Power, developers of 4-gigawatt plus
power plants, are lobbying the government to free them from
loss-making power sales contracts and want to be allowed to pass
on rising fuel costs to consumers.
Plants that can produce about 20,000 megawatts thermal power
are working at sub-optimal capacity, and another 30,000 MW of
plants under construction are likely to be affected by fuel
shortages, Khurana said.
India has an installed capacity of 187,000 MW, about a fifth
of China's capacity, and a peak-hour deficit of about 12
A shortage of coal could prevent India from reaching its
target of raising capacity by 75,000 MW in the five years to
March 2017, a government draft report said late last year.
In its 12th five-year plan ending March 2012, India will add
only 52,063 MW, falling short of the targeted 62,374 MW,
continuing a trend of missing power output targets.
Coal accounts for more than half of India's power generation
and will be required for about 85 percent of the target capacity
addition in 2012-2017, the draft said.
India has about 10 percent of the world's coal reserves, but
has struggled to provide enough of the fuel to power sector
because of challenges in land acquisition and environmental
clearances for mining.
A shortage of domestic supply is likely to push up coal
imports by four times to 213 million tonnes in 2016/17 from 54
million tonnes this fiscal year, the draft said.
Costly imports, which may seem the only way to meet the
country's coal demand, make power more expensive, forcing
distribution firms, which sell at subsidised tariffs, to slow
(Reporting by Sanjeev Choudhary; Editing by Ted Kerr)