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Nitin Gadkari asks Modi government to scrap solar duties

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-06-2014 Natalie Obiko Pearson

New Delhi: Transport minister Nitin Gadkari 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 US, Malaysia and Taiwan, the Hindu Business Line newspaper reported.

Gadkari, the minister for road, transport and highways, opposed the duties in a letter to Nirmala Sitharaman, his counterpart at the ministry of commerce and industry, the newspaper reported. It did not 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 22 May, 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 did not respond to emails, a text message and a phone call to his office. A call to Purti Group’s office was also not answered.

Piyush Goyal, minister for power and renewable energy, has also asked Sitharaman to review the proposed duties, the Times of India newspaper reported on Wednesday, without saying where it got the information. The finance ministry has until 22 August to implement the duties. Bloomberg

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