NTPC’s Orissa project stuck in red tape

Land acquisition,mining approvals remain stalled

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar,new Delhi | Published:March 15, 2013 1:22 am

NTPC Ltd’s Rs 11,400 crore Darlipali thermal power project in Orissa is hanging fire,with the state government continuing to drag its feet on clearances.

Even as the Darlipali project and the linked Dulanga coal mine continue to be stuck for want of requisite clearances and the physical possession of land,the worries for the country’s largest electricity generator have been compounded by the fact that vendors shortlisted for supplying the main plant equipment are unwilling to extend the validity of their quotations.

For the project,NTPC finalised the main plant equipment order in November 2011. Despite a lapse of 14 months,the project coming up in Orissa’s Sundargarh district has not moved beyond that initial stage due to land not being made available,NTPC officials said.

The order for equipment for the project has been placed with BHEL and BGR-Hitachi. The issue of pending clearances assumes even more significance as the validity of the bids received for the Darlipali project was extended till March 9. “The vendors have conveyed that they are unwilling to extend the bids any further,” an NTPC official said.

Sundargarh district collector Rupa Roshan Sahoo denied the allegations of delays in land acquisition,saying that as of Thursday,80 per cent of the 1,279 acres of private land had been acquired. “We started acquiring land in December and have done quite well. The handover of 350 acres of government land would also happen soon,” she said.

The Indian Express tried to speak to the senior officials of the state forest and environment departments,but none of them could be reached.

The delay in the project is despite the chiefs of both NTPC and BHEL,in a meeting with chief minister Naveen Patnaik on November 22 last year,being assured of the availability of land for the 1,600 MW project by December 10,and the forest clearance for the power project and the linked 7 MTPA (million tonne per annum) Dulanga mine being expedited by the first week of December. Both are still pending.

In view of the delays,Union minister of state for power Jyotiraditya Scindia has written to Patnaik on January 3, seeking his intervention to sort out the issues,following up on letters written by earlier power ministers Sushilkumar Shinde (May 10,2012) and M Veerappa Moily (September 3,2012).

Minister of heavy industries Praful Patel too had written to Patnaik on October 31,on behalf of BHEL,seeking physical possession of land and forest clearances. On April 7,2012,a meeting between Patnaik and Shinde was held,where Darlipali was discussed.

Sources in the Union power ministry said the delays faced could be the fallout of a “private sector push” that the state was focused on,especially in the power sector. The delays are despite the fact that 50 per cent of the power to be generated from NTPC projects such as Darlipali would go to Orissa.

As a corporate social responsibility initiative,NTPC plans to set up a 400-bed hospital in Sundargarh as soon as the Darlipali and Dulanga projects attain financial closure,a commitment reiterated by Scindia to Patnaik.

NTPC has two projects in Orissa,Talcher Thermal station (460 MW) and Talcher Kaniha station (3000 MW).

Power struggle

* The Darlipali project is to get coal from Dulanga mine

* For the project,NTPC finalised the main plant equipment order in November 2011

* Equipment vendors are unwilling to extend the bids further

* Sources in the power ministry say that the delays could be the fallout of a ‘private sector push’ that Orissa is focused on

* Union minister of state for power Jyotiraditya Scindia has written to Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik seeking his intervention

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