Indian Ministry of Power former secretary Eas Sarma said Mr Abbott had a “deep lack of understanding” about the real situation in India.
Indian Ministry of Power former secretary Eas Sarma said Mr Abbott had a “deep lack of understanding” about the real situation in India. AAP Image -Ben Macmahon

PM criticised for "deep lack of understanding" about India

A FORMER Indian Government official has slammed Prime Minister Tony Abbott's comments that more coal from Australia would help 100 million people in India who do not have power to their homes.

Indian Ministry of Power former secretary Eas Sarma said Mr Abbott had a "deep lack of understanding" about the real situation in India.

Mr Abbott said he was frustrated at the outcome of the Federal Court's decision to revoke the approval of Adani's Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin last week.

He said the coal would power up the lives of 100 million people in India.

But Mr Sarma said 68% of Indian households lived in rural villages and that many remote villages were beyond the reach of the electricity grid.

He also said studies had shown that when a village was more than 5km from the grid, the cost of supplying electricity from solar and other off-grid solutions was far lower than coal.

"It is therefore simplistic and simply inaccurate to assume that new electricity generation capacity added to the grid will automatically reduce electricity deprivation among the poor," Mr Sarma said.

He also said coal from the Galilee Basin would be too expensive for India.

He said most of India's imported coal came from Indonesia, which was cheaper than Australian coal.

Studies had shown the cost of producing electricity using coal from the Galilee Basin was two times the current average wholesale cost of electricity in India, Mr Sarma said.

- APN NEWSDESK



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