Electricity suffers as India errs on BRI stance

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/22 21:13:39

Priyavrat Singh, energy minister of India's Madhya Pradesh state, faced some embarrassing moments recently as the lights went out while he was telling reporters about the achievements that have been made in power generation, the Hindustan Times reported.

India has experienced power shortages since independence in 1947. Some statistics show that about 240 million Indians lacked access to electricity in 2017. 

Although Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in 2018 that all of India's nearly 600,000 villages had been connected to the grid, power outages remain a key challenge in India. The Indian government considers a village to be electrified when 10 percent of its households are connected to the power grid, according to media reports.

Shortages of power have also plagued Pakistan, but Islamabad has the capacity to attract and utilize foreign investment to resolve this longstanding problem. China has reportedly promised to invest $35 billion in Pakistan's power generation and transmission sectors. 

The Karot hydropower station in Pakistan, China's first overseas hydropower program to use its own technology and standards, will likely generate electricity by 2021. The $1.7-billion project is designed to produce 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours of clean power annually, equivalent to 10 percent of Pakistan's total energy output from hydropower stations in 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

India's industrial base is better than that of Pakistan. India should have gotten ahead of Pakistan in attracting foreign investment in its power sector, but it's been just the reverse.

India has long objected to the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has supported a diverse array of infrastructure projects that ease power shortages in countries and regions along the routes. 

Due to New Delhi's attitude toward the BRI, it's impossible for India to gain as much investment from China as Pakistan has done. India has missed a good opportunity to resolve its power shortages.

Electricity is the foundation of industrialization and it can also serve as a catalyst for India's ambitions to become a new world factory. 

India is indeed unwise in its stances as the country lags behind Pakistan in attracting foreign investment in power-related sectors.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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