Union Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy- RK Singh on Friday (July 3, 2020) said that India will not import any power equipment from China and Pakistan without advance government permission.
Power Minister R K Singh said the decision was made on account of an inspection of all imported power equipment for malware that can be likely used to trigger electricity grid failures in the country.
In a virtual press conference with power ministers of states and Union Territories, Singh asked the state discoms to not give orders for supply of equipment to Chinese firms.
At the state energy ministers conference chaired by Power Minister R K Singh, he remarked, "We manufacture everything here. India imported Rs 71,000 crore worth power equipment including Rs 21,000 crore from China."
"This (huge import of power equipment) is something we cannot tolerate that a country will transgress into our territory.... we will not take anything from China and Pakistan.", he said.
Singh further stated, "we will not give permission for import from Prior Reference countries. We are affected. There could be malware or trojan horse in those (imports from China) which they can activate remotely (to cripple our power systems)," while added, "your discoms order equipment from Chinese companies. We request you not to order from Chinese companies."
He emphasized that under Atmanirbhar Bharat mission India will not import any equipment from China which is accessible in India and will go for inspection of imported equipment and machinery. Based on inspection, the government can deny the import of equipment.
The senior minister's assertions assume significance against the backdrop of border standoff between India and China in Ladakh and also after 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured in a clash with their Chinese counterparts in Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control, on June 15.
On June 28, Power Minister R K Singh had conveyed the Centre Government’s aspiration to “build a firewall” against Chinese malware.
“Power is a very sensitive and strategic sector for any country,” he had said, “Electricity runs all industries, communication systems and all databases including strategic ones and so we have to guard it against any sabotage by countries which are adversaries or possible adversaries. We want to build a firewall.”
The Power Minister also announced three new schemes- UDAY, DDUGJY, and IPDS, for funding discoms. Under these schemes, states would have to present a plan for decreasing the losses of discoms. The funds under the scheme would not be released as loan or grants to those discoms which would not cling to loss-reduction trajectory.
"We have to make discoms viable. You have to do it through a PSU or a private player like Delhi did, " the Power Minister added.
He also mentioned that under the liquidity infusion scheme for the ailing power distribution sector the period of outstanding dues would be extended till May 2020 as against March 2020, through which the government is looking to introduce around Rs 90,000 crore in the discoms.
The Power Minister further mentioned that states have asked for Rs 93,000 crore loans under the package and the loan of Rs 20,000 crore has been sanctioned so far.
He also mentioned that the states would get five more years to cut down the cross-subsidy to a 20% level.
“We have asked NITI Aayog that achieving the 20 percent cross-subsidy level as per Power Tariff Policy 2016, will not happen now,” he quipped.