Union Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy RK Singh on Friday said that India will not import any power equipment from China and Pakistan without prior government permission, PTI reported. Singh said the decision was made on the basis of an inspection of all imported power equipment for malware that can be potentially used to trigger electricity grid failures in the country.

In a virtual press conference with power ministers of states and Union Territories, Singh asked state discoms to not give orders for supply of equipment to Chinese firms. “We manufacture everything here,” he said. “ India imported Rs 71,000 crore worth power equipment, including Rs 21,000 crore from China. This is something we cannot tolerate... that a country will transgress into our territory....we will not take anything from China and Pakistan.”

In a interview with PTI on June 28, Singh had expressed the Centre’s desire to “build a firewall” against Chinese malware. “Power is a very sensitive and strategic sector for any country,” he had said. “Electricity runs all industries, communication systems and all databases including strategic ones and so we have to guard it against any sabotage by countries which are adversaries or possible adversaries. We want to build a firewall.”

The Union minister had said that countries who are adversaries, or potential adversaries will be identified as “prior reference countries”, and government permission will be required before importing any equipment from there. He said the countries identified are mostly the ones that share borders with India, including China and Pakistan.

“We have reports that malware and Trojan horse can be installed which can be activated remotely to bring down the power sector and the economy,” he had added. “So we have decided, because it is a sensitive sector, whatever equipment is made in India, we will purchase them. And those that are not made in India, we will import but check thoroughly to rule out the presence of any malware.”

Calls to boycott Chinese goods began after 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 injured in a clash with their Chinese counterparts in Galwan Valley in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control, on June 15.

On June 29, India banned 59 apps, including TikTok, WeChat and Cam Scanner, alleging that they presented a security threat to the country. The ministry said that it has received complaints from various sources about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms, which steal and transfer users’ data in an unauthorised manner to locations outside India. The ministry added that this situation requires “emergency measures”.