India Needs To Unify Its Energy Departments
In recent times, India has woken up to the problem of trying to manage an array of different ministries and departments when it comes to the energy sector.
What is the issue?
India has five different ministries, along with a multitude of different regulators, which govern the energy sector. We have different ministries each for petroleum and coal, renewable energy and nuclear. There is a separate Ministry for Power, which works with a network of state distributors and private regulators to provide electricity across the country. The Petroleum and Natural Gas alone have two regulators – Directorate General of Hydrocarbons for upstream activities and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board for the downstream work.
What challenges does this present?
There is a magnitude of problems this kind of spread-out arrangement presents. Data collection across so many different distributors, regulators, and ministries are next to impossible. For example, to make predictions and plans, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation needs consumption data. Since no single source of data is available, the ministry has to sporadically conduct surveys across the nation and collate data from tens of regulators and all different ministries involved. This is a hectic and financially draining exercise.
How is the government looking to fix this?
The Kelkar Committee has already submitted their report, saying that multiple ministries and industries being involved in the management of the energy network within the country is proving to be detrimental to the national interest. In stark contrast to India, most developed countries such as Australia and the UK, energy is handled by a single department or ministry. India has already shown our ability to confine multiple ministries into one during the reorganization of the preexisting Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. We are capable of doing the same for power.
A single unified ministry of energy will enable India to be more efficient. Since energy and power is a national security issue as well, in the long run, it will have a range of positive effects. It will allow India to optimize our limited resources to plana and meet the goals of energy security, sustainability, and accessibility. After all, clean, sustainable energy is the currency of the future.