The new MNRE head, Raj Kumar Singh or RK Singh (second from left), is a former bureaucrat, who served at the Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Administrative Service (IAS). (Photo Credit: Press Information Bureau)
- Raj Kumar Singh has been entrusted with the responsibility of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India
- Singh will also be looking after another important portfolio - the Ministry of Power
- He has replaced Piyush Goyal who will continue to head the Ministry of Coal while also handling Ministry of Railways
In a major cabinet reshuffle, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shifted out Piyush Goyal from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). Goyal has been elevated as cabinet rank minister of railways. He will continue to head the Ministry of Coal.
Goyal has been replaced by Raj Kumar Singh, who assumes responsibility as the Minister of State (Indpendent Charge) for MNRE as well as for the Ministry of Power.
Educated at one of India’s very prestigious institutes, St Stephen’s College of Delhi, Singh also studied at RVB Delft in the Netherlands. He worked for the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Administrative Services (IAS). In fact, Singh joins some other former bureaucrats to have been given responsibilities for various ministries.
Speaking to local business daily The Economic Times (ET), a ‘top government functionary’ stated the rationale behind the move, “The government wants to use the three-decade long or more bureaucratic experience of these officers in governance for delivery in the key schemes in the last lap before the 2019 elections. They know why work gets stuck in government, who poses obstacles and what is needed to get results.”
Singh is taking charge of the MNRE at a time when the renewables growth story in India is at an interesting juncture. While solar and wind have appeared as strong alternatives to fossil fuel based generation capacity with their competitive tariffs backed by investor interest, there are challenges that demand urgent attention from the government.
Indian developers are complaining about electricity supply companies asking for renegotiation of PPA tariffs that could threaten several GW of clean energy supply (see 7 GW PV In India Face Renegotiation Risk). At the same time, the domestic manufacturing industry has been asking for a helping hand from the administration in the face of increasing competition from players outside India. While looking impressive on paper – reaching 8 GW capacity for modules by end of May, actual operational capacity and competitiveness needs to be looked into.