New Delhi: Whether it is the sunrise sector of India’s energy industry or the sunset sector, which remains the backbone of the country’s overall energy chain, everyone has to pay a price. Companies involved in the energy business in India donated over Rs 3,600 crores to political parties since the inception of the electoral bonds. Together, their share is nearly 30% of the total donations through electoral bonds.

The energy sector businesses, be it the new emerging industries or the sunset sectors, have always faced political obstructions and clearance delays. While licence raj of the past governments often came under much criticism, these donations hint at the existence of new licence raj, albeit wrapped in a new package.

“That laws and regulations are compromised, bent or rewritten in the name of ‘development’ was always known but now with the electoral bond story the links of why certain kinds of mega infra projects have been pushed and the policies eased for them is in our faces. It shatters the myth of ‘sabka saath’,” said Manshi Asher, an environmental researcher and activist.

These companies are involved in projects across sectors, such as mining, coal, gas, thermal power, solar and wind power, hydropower, transmission lines, electric mobility, and smart meters.

The list of firms that donated to political parties comprises about 100 companies. This includes major players in India’s energy sector such as Vedanta, Aditya Birla Group, RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, Rungta Sons Private Limited, Torrent Power, Jindal Steel and Power Limited, ReNew Power Group, Greenko Group, Mytrah Energy (India) Private Limited, Genus Power Infrastructures Limited and others.

Among them, Vedanta contributed over Rs 400 crore, RP Sanjiv Goenka Group gave Rs 492 crore, Aditya Birla Group donated Rs 464 crore, Torrent Power contributed Rs 106 crore and Rs 100 crore came from Rungta Sons Private Limited.  

The list also includes Telangana-based industrial conglomerate, Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Limited (MEIL), which has emerged as the second-biggest donor of the political parties. The group is involved in projects related to irrigation, hydrocarbons, electric buses, communications, power (hydro, thermal, and renewable), etc. As reported by The Collective earlier, MEIL has its fingers in many Central and State governments’ projects.

Of the Rs 3,600 crore, over Rs 1200 crore were donated through bonds by MEIL and its subsidiaries Western UP Power Transmission Company Ltd, SPEC Power, and Evey Trans Private Ltd.

The list also includes contributions from many companies involved in green energy business including solar power, wind power and electric buses. However, of the total Rs 3600 crore contributed by these energy firms, companies primarily focused on renewable energy contributed only about 230 crore. 

This includes Rs 17 crore each, donated by Ostro Jaisalmer Private Limited and Ostro Madhya Wind Private Limited. The two companies are part of the ReNew Power Group. Greenko Group, which is involved in solar, wind and hydro-power, donated at least Rs 35 crore to political parties through electoral bonds.

Simplification of environmental and forest clearances has been a serious issue for the energy sector, often an obstruction in their efforts to set up mining units, power plants, and solar, wind and hydro projects. Industry has often blamed such delays in clearances often leading to inordinate delays in their projects taking off, hampering the growth of the country.