Clean energy fund underutilised, lacks of focus: Experts

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) The national clean energy fund, which was launched in 2010 and has in its kitty over Rs.8,000 crore, is severely under-utilised and seems to be heading nowhere due to lack of clear-cut strategy and focus, experts have said.

According to Rita Pandey, a professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, although the broad objectives of the fund is in line with India’s critical energy needs, there is no proper strategy to realise that.

The National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) was introduced in 2010, in the federal budget for financial year 2010-11 by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The fund was created by imposing a cess on coal at an effective rate of Rs.50 a tonne. The cess is applicable on imported coal. The government targets to collect at least Rs.10,000 crore under the fund by 2015.

According to the finance ministry data, the total tax revenue generated through the clean energy cess was Rs.1,066.46 crore in 2010-11, Rs.3,249.40 crore in 2011-12, and an estimated Rs.3,864.20 crore in 2012-13.

The total mop-up under the fund in the past three years is Rs.8,180.06 crore. The fund is severely under-utilised. According to private estimates, only 10-15 percent of the fund have been utilised.

“The fund lacks clearly defined targets, a roadmap to realise these targets, and a feedback mechanism to assess, learn, and improve,” Pandey told IANS.

“NCEF guidelines defining the eligibility of the projects for support are too broad based and appear to encompass every possible action required to cope with climate change. This poses potential risk of diluting the focus of NCEF with adverse implications for research and innovation in clean energy sector in India,” she said.

Founder director of Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research Kirit Parikh said the fund lacked focus.

“There need to be clear focus and some sort of timeframe,” Parikh said at a workshop

organised by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in partnership with Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation to create awareness about the effective utilisation of the Fund.

However, a senior finance ministry official, who is responsible for management of the fund, said the focus of the fund was on promoting research and innovation, and the government was supporting clean energy projects through several budgetary allocations.

“This is a very small fund. Our primary focus is on research and innovative development,” said Meena Agarwal, officer on special duty in procurement policy division in the finance ministry.

“The government is making huge budgetary allocations for clean energy,” Agarwal said.

(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at [email protected])

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