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We should reach rural areas at affordable price CMD NTPC

NTPC Ltd CMD Arup Roy Choudhury completes his 5 year tenure today and he says a lot needs to be done to reform power sector He speaks to RM just before demitting office Excerpts

Arup Roy Choudhury
Chairman & Managing Director NTPC Ltd

You are demitting office before attaining the age of 60 years. How does it feel?

I understand that it is the policy of the Government which I totally honour and respect.
However, I must mention here that I was appointed as CMD of NBCC by the NDA Government in 2001 under its policy of attracting talent from the private sector to public sector. Accordingly, I came from private sector to public sector and my track record for the last 15 years in public sector and worked under 8 Ministers and 9 Secretaries has been outstanding. I would like to be known as a professional who had worked well.

Where our power sector is heading?

In my opinion, the sector is going through the worst ever time, despite the Electricity Act, 2003. We have actually not done the complete reform of the entire sector; starting from coal mining to distribution and realization. Still there are a lot of vexed issues which are of federal / State character in the power sector. No one-time-injection or long-term course can bring permanent solution to the sector. Unless a product which is manufactured or produced is able to recover its economic value from sale, the business cycle does not work.

We have to find a method of not only generating electricity which we are now doing exceedingly well but also of reaching it to the last mile consumer in rural and remote areas at an affordable price.

What are major achievements during the last five years?

Major achievements growth in generation. 15,235 MW added since 1st Sep 2010, which is 32.06 percent of the total capacity (47,518 MW). We also made an effective and substantial entry into hydro generation. Commissioned 800 MW (4X200 MW) at Koldam Hydro Project in Himachal Pradesh in 2015, overcoming long drawn barriers to the hydro project implementation.NTPC has made the single largest thermal capacity addition (8,445 MW) in the country during the 12th Plan so far and well on course to achieve the target of 14 GW; likely to achieve 20 GW.
NTPC has planned to develop 10,000 MW Solar Power as a part of the country's target of creating 100000 MW of Solar Power by 2022. Out of this, 3,000 MW has been planned for immediate installation.

NTPC has been able to convince the government for acceptance of various NTPC proposals. In a major breakthrough in policy advocacy, GoI has issued a notification removing the power generated from NTPCs plants which are more than 25 years old from the existing PPAs. This power will be bundled with the solar power generated by NTPC and will be sold at a bundled rate. This will help selling of NTPC's solar power. Singrauli power will be bundled with the first lot of 3000 MW.
NTPC is well on course to achieve its corporate goal of 128,000 MW by 2032. PPAs of 106762 MW capacities have been signed by NTPC (including its JVs) so far.

Your view on coal?

I must compliment the Coal India Ltd. for having substantial increase in their production. However, my wish list is that they should now very seriously at the quality issues of the coal which they are supplying to the power projects. I know it is a difficult exercise because of the long-long history of mafia infested in many of the coal mines. But, I am sure, with the dynamic role of the Hon’ble Minister for Coal, Power and NRE, the time has come to take bold steps.

I am aware the Coal Ministry has taken up the exercise of re-grading their mines through an independent coal controller. This will attend to many of the power sector problems. But, still issue of crushing the coal to the appropriate size and washing the coal to remove ash as much as possible before coal is transported will go a long way in bring quality and quantity parity of our domestic coal received at the power station end with the imported coal that reaches our power plants.

NTPC at its own level has set up a cell called Coal Washery Cell under an officer of the level of Executive Director. Apart from undertaking coal washing activities, the Cell will also get engaged in exploring setting up of power plants based on based on washery rejects. This division could also help Coal India Ltd. in many ways and Coal India should not consider this to be a competitor or challenge.


Will NTPC stop importing coal?

It must be clarified that whether NTPC will import coal or how much coal it imports is actually decided at the level of Power Ministry and depends on the commitments that they received about the coal availability from the Coal Ministry and the generation plans in the country.

It is also important to mention here that in some of the NTPC stations, which are coastal based, the cost of domestic coal is more than the imported coal (Simhadri). So, it is not exactly that NTPC will stop importing coal. What NTPC would be doing is to reconcile its numbers with the coal requirements with the Ministry of Power and Coal India and then take a call on importing coal.

For 4,000 MW Pudimadama Project, which is 100 percent based on imported coal, NTPC will continue to import coal. But with increasing domestic coal production not only NTPC can reduce its dependence on the imported coal and reduce the outflow of foreign exchange in the interest of the nation.

As you are aware, we are take steps towards meeting our national requirement with the domestic coal and reduce our dependence on the imported coal. This will not only help the sector but will also result the reduction of CAD of the country.

Your Plans for the Future?

I consider myself to be a professional with adequate expertise in infrastructure, housing, real estate and power sector. I also consider myself to be a competent person to teach in management schools on Strategy, Change, Turnaround, Corporate Governance, Boundary Management, Business Modules, etc. I have already given my consent for being a Visiting Professor in IIM-Calcutta, IIM-Lucknow, IIT-Delhi, NTPC School of Business, etc. While I would not like to join any competitor of NTPC, I shall remain available for an advisory role to any entity where I can do value addition. I also have some very exciting offers which I cannot disclose at this time and am extremely excited on this new phase in my life.

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