India’s domestic solar projects off to solid start

More than 50,000 entrepreneurs are being trained to supply the requisite product

By HP Ranina/NRI Biz Matters

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Workers install solar panels near Bengaluru. — File photo
Workers install solar panels near Bengaluru. — File photo

Published: Tue 4 Jun 2024, 5:35 PM

Question: My brothers live in a Tier 1 city in India and I had advised them, after reading your answer in an earlier column, to apply to the Government for availing of the subsidy for solar panels which they may install on their house. Is the scheme successful and has it gone on stream?

ANSWER: The Government’s Rooftop Solar Project has taken off with more than ten million applications being received. Under the scheme, 300 units of electricity will be given free every month once the grid connected solar panels are installed. Each householder who avails of the scheme will secure a subsidy of Rs78,000. To install the solar power generating units, a large number of persons are being trained by the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited in collaboration with the National Power Training Institute and the National Skill Development Corporation.

Further, more than 50,000 entrepreneurs are being trained to supply the requisite product. A new portal has been set up by the Ministry of Renewable Energy to facilitate the vendor registration process. An amount of Rs750 billion has been earmarked for this project and entrepreneurs who are involved in the commissioning of the solar panels will be given collateral free loans to help them initially. The Government is very strict about the specifications of the solar panels so that the energy generated, which will flow into the grid, will be of the requisite standards. Many Indian companies are getting into the manufacture of solar panels to meet the demand which currently is being met partially by imports from China.

Question: Tesla was planning to set up an electric vehicle plant in India but the company seems to prefer China. Is there going to be any change in the policy of the Indian Government which would attract investment in this industry?

ANSWER: The Indian government’s policy has never been designed to suit or facilitate any one company. The policy is meant to attract investment from any country which wishes to take advantage of the growing market in India. In March this year a policy was announced for electric vehicles and additional guidelines are now being framed.

Companies which are already manufacturing in India will not be required to incorporate a new subsidiary company. Guidelines will include details on portal links and the project monitoring agency. Investors who conform to the policy and guidelines will be given import licences at a concessional duty rate for a certain number of electric vehicles. In order to qualify, the importer will have to give a commitment for setting up a manufacturing unit in India with a minimum investment of $500 million. The company will be given three years to set up the production facility and reach fifty percent domestic value addition within five yeaRs The concessional import duty is 15 per cent on vehicles costing $35,000 and above. The period of the concessional duty will be five years.

Question: I am about to retire and return to India. I am planning to buy a residential property which has conveniences for those who are physically challenged as my parents will also be living with me. Are there housing projects which are designed for differently abled citizens?

ANSWER: There are residential projects for persons who are physically challenged which have to conform to guidelines laid down by the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority. Therefore, if you purchase a property in the State of Maharashtra, you will have the advantage of developers certifying that they have adhered to the guidelines. These guidelines lay down detailed specifications pertaining to building design including considerations for accessibility and ease of mobility. The requirements are based on green building principles and provide for lifts and safety measures within the housing project. One of the important regulations is that there should be an adequate number of ramps at different levels and wheelchair accessible elevatoRs Further, there has to be a gas leak detection system in kitchens and anti-skid tiles in toilets and bathrooms. There should also be at least one elevator which is large enough to accommodate a stretcher. Compliance of these physical specifications is made mandatory. Developers will need to provide detailed information about the technical aspects of their project. Further, builders will have to self-certify several quality aspects including structural design, stability, testing, input materials, workmanship, etc.

HP Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in corporate and tax laws of India.

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