Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday emphasised on the need for bridging the gap between supply and demand for power to enable the country achieve a higher rate of economic growth on a sustained basis.

He was speaking after laying the foundation-stone for Rs.6,000-crore NTPC-BHEL Power Projects' Private Limited, a joint venture for power equipment manufacturing plant here, a backward area, 60 km from the temple town of Tirupati.

This is the largest public sector undertaking that Andhra Pradesh bagged after the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant amidst stiff competition among various States.

The plant will be able to provide power equipment required for additional capacity of 5,000 MW per year by 2014-15. It will provide direct employment to 6,000 persons and indirect employment to another 25,000.

Dr. Singh said availability of affordable power was of critical importance for the country's development. The Centre has drawn up an ambitious programme for additional power generation during the 11th and 12th five year plans. Such large addition of power would generate huge demand for power equipment.

The joint venture would take a lead in manufacturing power equipment to help the country avvhieve targets in power sector, the Prime Minister stated.

Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Union Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh and Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan attended the function.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah who is indisposed could not attend.

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