NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy had called for a single unified ministry to administer India’s energy sector. India currently has a number of ministries and government departments to deal with issues pertaining to the energy sector. This is not allowing for the optimum use of energy and is increasing the complexity of the energy-related issues. The Draft NEP is going to be placed for the Cabinet approval in the near future. Accepting and implementing the NEP’s recommendations on reforming energy governance is vital for addressing the country’s energy sector issues. However, the government should also carefully traverse the recommended reform given the hard-hitting implications on the existing bureaucratic structure.
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Which are the government bodies that govern India’s energy sector?
- In India, many ministries and departments regulate and govern the energy sector.
- The petroleum and natural gas, coal, new and renewable energy and nuclear energy have respective ministries or departments.
- The Ministry of Power along with the state-level bodies manage the DISCOMS i.e., distribution companies that do not generate electricity themselves but purchase it from someone else and supply it to the consumers.
- There are also various regulators for each type of fuel and energy source.
- Additionally, under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, there are two regulators:
- Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) to deal with the upstream activities (operation stages in the oil and gas industry that involves exploration and production).
- Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) to deal with the downstream activities (involving the conversion of oil and gas into the finished product).
Why do we need a unified energy ministry?
- There are numerous government bodies to deal with India’s energy sector.
- Yet, there isn’t a single ministry or department that collects energy-related data in a wholesome and integrated manner.
- Data related to energy consumption is hardly available.
- Also, there are inadequacies in the supply side data collected by the respective ministries.
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) organizes the available data from various ministries and conducts surveys at sporadic intervals.
- While the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is the statutory authority that regulates the energy efficiency on the consumption side, there is no agency or body for the same purpose on the supply side.
- A single unified energy ministry can help India gain an integrated outlook on energy.
- It will assist in ensuring the efficient use of limited resources.
- It can also promote energy security, sustainability and accessibility in addition to quicker policy response on the energy sector.
Which are the countries that have unified energy ministry?
- The developed countries like the US, Germany, France and the UK have a single ministry or department to govern with the energy sector.
- There are also instances where the energy ministry is in conjunction with other portfolios like environment, climate change, mines and industry.
- For instance, the UK has the “Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”, France has the “Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs”, Brazil has the “Ministry of Mines and Energy” and Australia has the “Ministry of Environment and Energy”.
- From this, the predominance of unified energy ministries is evident in the developed nations.
Which are the recommendations that support unified energy ministry?
Kalkar Committee Report:
- The Kalkar Committee, in its report titled “Roadmap for Reduction in Import Dependency in the Hydrocarbon Sector by 2030”, held that the multiple ministries and agencies involving in the management of energy-related issues present challenges of coordination and optimum resource utilization. Thus, the current system undermines efforts to increase energy security.
Draft National Energy Policy (NEP):
- In the Draft NEP, the NITI Aayog had advocated for the creation of unified Ministry of Energy by merging of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG), Coal (MoC), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and Power (MoP).
- The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been left out from the proposed unified ministry since its implications are beyond the scope of energy and it involves national security issues.
- The proposed ministry would have six agencies under it to handle various aspects of the energy sector – Energy Regulatory Agency, Energy Data Agency, Energy Efficiency Agency, Energy Planning and Technical Agency, Energy Schemes Implementation Agency and Energy R&D Agency.
What are the related measures taken by the present government?
- The measures to merge related ministries have already been undertaken by the present government.
- For instance, the newly created Ministry of Jal Shakti was established by the merging of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Ministry of Drinking water and Sanitation. This was done to ensure unified water management and promote an integrated approach to water-related issues.
- Issues related to energy sector too can be addressed in a similar manner.
- Currently, a single minster heads both the MNRE and the MoP. This is a welcome move by the government as both these ministries are heavily interlinked.
- Having a single administrator can help in addressing the long-standing issues faced by conventional and renewable power generators like power balancing and transmission infrastructure planning. It can also prevent the issues like non-payment of dues by DISCOMS to the generators.
- For instance, when there was a single minister for MNRE, MoP and MoC, positive results were seen in village electrification, LED bulb distribution (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All or UJALA), power sector reforms (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana or UDAY), coal block e-auctions and alleviation of coal shortages.
It is vital for India to ensure energy security, sustainability and accessibility. In this age of energy transition, this can only happen with quick and holistic decision-making as well as providing of a level playing field for various fuels, all of which can happen if a single ministry handles the entire sector. Such a unified Ministry of Energy will not only enable India to keep up with the global energy transition but also continue to be a leader in adopting cleaner energy sources.
India needs a unified Energy Ministry to deal with the current issues that are plaguing the energy sector. Elucidate. (250 words)