No. Chinese entry into Indian power sector is not a security threat but potentially an economic threat.
As context: global manufacturing today is based on complex and integrated supply chains with pervasive links in China. For example, it is likely that key avionics in the Air India Boeing 747 used by the Prime Minister and the President were manufactured in China. There is no evidence that this is a security threat. The software and SCADA systems used in power sector are simpler than those used in avionics. One can, and must validate cyber security threats, but it is doable. The bogey of security threats has been used widely, for example by the United States to stop Chinese companies from buying assets in the US. However, if anything, the US and Russian governments have created some of the largest cyber security challenges via sophisticated surveillance. Yet we are comfortable with Russian nuclear plants and the US military aircraft.
If we wish to restrict China for political and economic reasons, the world will respect India more if we are honest and say so.
U B Reddy, Managing Director, Enerfra Projects (India) Pvt Ltd
Clearly our relationship with China is unique and cannot be compared with our relationship with any other country. Due to this unique relationship, it is not advisable to have Chinese companies get into any type of lead role in the space of any critical infrastructure. We should not buy intelligent and smart transmission and distribution equipment from them given the fact that the grid is becoming intelligent and increasingly vulnerable to cyber threat also. Imports of Chinese electrical equipment across all sectors should not be encouraged, particularly where the equipment are intelligent and have embedded electronics. Such intelligent equipment in the power system will pose a potential risk of sabotage and examples of such incidents are very many across the world. With over 40 per cent over capacity, the Indian manufacturers are capable of meeting the demands of the power sector indigenously.
Sunil Misra, Director General, IEEMA
Yes, with growing power sector and asset reconstruction in the power sector in India, there are many avenues open for the electrical power industry. The entry of Chinese companies in to these sectors, especially in controls side like smart grid, grid control and monitoring and EHV sub-stations controls and monitoring, these sectors will be in jeopardy and can be a possible threat to the security of our nation. The data related grid control and EHV sub-station control may be used for premeditated misuse by Chinese defence and government. Something goes wrong to the grid will land up in to complete blackout and halt of critical services like mass transportation, defence and medical. Things will come to either standstill or get affected very badly when needed. Hence the government, corporate and public sectors like Power Grid and major corporate in power sectors should think seriously before they induct any Chinese equipment in India’s power sector.
Parag Yelegaonkar, Business Development Manager, Testo India Pvt Ltd