India Minister Asks Government to Scrap Solar Duties, Line Says

Jun 11, 2014 1:42 am ET

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- India’s transport minister has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to scrap a plan by the nation’s previous administration to impose duties on solar imports from China, the U.S., Malaysia and Taiwan, the Hindu Business Line reported.

Minister of Road, Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari opposed the duties in a letter to Nirmala Sitharaman, his counterpart at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the newspaper reported. It didn’t say how it obtained the note. Gadkari set up Purti Solar Systems Pvt. in his home state of Maharashtra in 2010, according to the company’s website.

The commerce ministry recommended anti-dumping duties ranging from 11 cents to 81 cents per watt on solar imports on May 22, four days before Modi’s government took office. The tariffs would stall three-quarters of photovoltaic capacity under way in Asia’s third-biggest solar market, according to Headway Solar Pvt., a Gurgaon-based industry consultant.

In the letter, Gadkari said duties would double the cost of solar power, according to the report. Gadkari is the founder and chairman of Nagpur-based Purti Group, which owns Purti Solar Systems, according to its website. The group supplies solar- powered products including irrigation pumps and plans to build a photovoltaic power plant, according to its website.

K. Syama Prasad, information officer to Gadkari, said he was unaware of the letter or Gadkari’s affiliation with Purti. Gadkari didn’t respond to e-mails, a text message and a phone call to his office. A call to Purti Group’s office was unanswered.

Piyush Goyal, minister of power and renewable energy, has also asked Sitharaman to review the proposed duties, the Times of India reported today, without saying where it got the information. The Ministry of Finance has until Aug. 22 to implement the duties.