TL Sankar

Co-Written by Dr Sriram Kannekanti &  B. Leena Rajyalakshmi

One of the first generations civil servants of independent India with great contributions on multiple domains as a bureaucrat, intellect, change maker, humanitarian and philanthropist TL Sankar (1928-2018).  A 1957 batch civil servant of Andhra Pradesh batch worked in various positions for 35 years and another 25 years of his post superannuation services to many public, public sector and private entities till his last breath and totally 60 years of Sankar’s commitment and dedication benefitted people at large in India and across the globe.  His engagement with different reputed institutions and organizations in key sectors like power, energy and community development with extreme passion on non-conventional energy resources like solar and bio gas interventions yielded excellent results through passing practical tests with communities. Especially solar energy and bio gas interventions are his pet areas to address poverty reduction at grass roots level. He conceptualized developing of small scale infrastructure with sustainable models and experimented with communities and produced satisfactory results. In addition, his innovation and ideas related to energy needs of poor communities and empowering families on sustainable basis like encouraging villagers to utilize non-conventional energy resources for domestic consumption on one hand and generating revenues and enhancement of livelihoods sources on the other is Sankar’s unique ideas. He created synergy of energy for poor people securing local power resources. It was worked out practically and delivered a model successfully in various locations of the country. His collaboration with different national and international organizations particularly on energy security for poor as well as addressing poverty reduction aspects through his non-profit initiatives provided positive outputs.

TL Sankar’s intellectual contribution as an expert in power, coal and energy sectors in a pioneer entity like then Planning Commission, as Chief of the Project Appraisal Division in New Delhi gave visible achievements. Apart from this he was a member in various expert committees and instrumental in formulating policies related to energy. One of his significant contributions to Coal sector in India during then UPA government he was Chairman of Expert Committee on Coal reforms popularly known as “Sankar panel”. He strongly provided historical recommendations related to Coal sector reforms in the country such as setting up of a national level regulatory authority for coal industry with an aim of full control of coal prices, mine tariffs and production areas which never think all these before. Additionally Sankar advised to develop and govern coal industry through better resource management techniques. To improve coal production and resources he made targeted recommendations to government of India mainly; to utilize coal resources in the country in a more optimal way especially by downtrodden people and fair regulation and transparent mechanisms in coal sector through some institutional settings. He also developed a framework to increase coal production output from 400 million tonnes to 1,000 millions in the span ten years.

Sankar also a key instrument in restructure the public sector Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries to operate in single umbrella to improve efficiency. Additionally the composition of CIL board and redrafting of Articles of Association, strengthening planning, research and technical competencies of coal industry in the country he advised to grant autonomous status for Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDIL) and it should separate from CIL etc are remarkable recommendations of Sankar panel.

TL Sankar was honoured with one of India’s highest civilian award Padma Bhushan by the government of India for his extraordinary commitment and dedication as a civil servant and thematic expert if energy and coal sectors. He was on boards of various public sector including Navaratna PSUs, private, corporate and NGOs, also founder trustee of Vimala Sankar Trust on the memory of his wife. Through this trust he worked with different NGOs and carried out welfare and development programs for under privileged communities also adopted few Anganwadis to feed and educate poor kids.

Sankar was also a consultant and adviser for United Nations, World Bank and Asian Development Bank gave his services in other countries. In other prestigious positions he performed were Principal of Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Director of Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Director General of National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) all in Hyderabad.

TL Sankar left his legacy for contemporary era. His ideas and intellectual resources need to be carried out by the current generation for the benefit of people.

Dr Sriram Kannekanti &  B. Leena Rajyalakshmi are Independent Development Experts based in Hyderabad and associated with TL Sankar




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