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Madras High Court dismisses plea against 70% solar imports safeguard
The Madras High Court has dismissed the petition challenging the Directorate General of Safeguards’ recommendation of 70% safeguard duty on import of solar panels and modules, according to three sources close to the development.
An oral order was delivered on Monday while the written one comes on Tuesday.
The dismissal paves way for a public hearing, after which a report will be sent to a panel of secretaries of commerce, revenue, industrial policy, external affairs and new and renewable energy ministries for a final call.
Acting on a petition from domestic solar manufacturers who claimed imports of solar panels and modules were causing their industry serious injury, the Directorate General of Safeguards had in mid January suggested slapping a whopping 70% levy on solar imports. Over 90% of solar equipment used in Indian projects is imported, mostly from China and Malaysia.
Solar developers were deeply dismayed by the recommendation, claiming it would raise construction costs and thereby solar tariffs, which have been falling steeply for some years now. "Though there is widespread fear that duties will slow down the sector, the court's decision provides much needed clarity to all stakeholders and allows them to plan their next steps," said Vinay Rustagi, managing director of solar consultancy Bridge to India."
The biggest concern is for projects already allocated without any legal protection from duty imposition. If the duty is indeed imposed, I hope the government will provide some form of compensation mechanism or immunity to them, without which many of the projects may be abandoned."