September 12, 2020 7:55:26 am
TWO AND a half months after the Punjab Cabinet decided to sell 1320 acres of Bathinda thermal power plant land, the plant and machinery of the plant were auctioned for Rs 164.6 crore to a Mumbai based firm.
An e-auction was done on September 9 with a base price of Rs 134 crore of which Rs 2 crore was a fee paid to participate in the bidding process. Hence, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) earned only Rs 32 crore out of this auction while Rs 750 crore had been spent on renovation of this plant during the 2007-2014 tenure.
Boilers, turbines, chimneys, generators, control system etc are part of this e-auction. Hence, machinery will be taken out by the concerned company before demolishing the constructed portion.
A Venuprasad, chairman cum managing director (CMD) of PSPCL, said, “The base price was Rs 134 crore and it has been auctioned for a little above Rs 164 crore. Only the thermal plant and machinery have been auctioned. The four cooling towers which are a landmark of Bathinda, will be retained and hence cooling towers are part of the Punjab Urban development authority (PUDA) land now. However, flue gas chimneys are included in the auction, they should not be confused with the iconic towers.”
The plant was never run to its full capacity since 2016 — nearly two years after spending Rs 750 crore on its renovation. The then Akali government would shut the plant in winters for “maintenance”. In the 2017 polls, Congress fought to make this plant operational. But soon after it came to power, from January 1, 2018, the plant was closed permanently and since then was lying defunct.
On June 22 this year, the Punjab Cabinet passed a decision to use its 1,320 acres of land to be developed as an industrial estate. The land will be acquired by PUDA and through a revenue sharing scheme of 80:20 (PSPCL: PUDA), it will be redeveloped by PUDA so as to sell it as an industrial estate. Though the total land of the plant is 1,764 acres, the rest consist of three artificial lakes, thermal colony, cooling towers etc. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had claimed that it will be the largest industrial park of Punjab.
Meanwhile, the foundation stone of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), Bathinda was laid in November, 1969, to celebrate the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak by the then CM Justice Gurnam Singh and its construction had started in 1970. The first unit with 110 MW capacity had come up in 1974 and later the second unit with similar capacity in 1974.
Subsequently, the third and fourth units came up in 1978 and 1982 and hence the total generation capacity was 440 MW. Total cost of the plant at that time was Rs 100 crore. The Joint Forum of GNDTP Employees Association had also lodged protest against this auction as Gursewak Singh, president of the association said, “After spending crores on renovation…auction was done for just Rs 164 crore which as bare minimum despite the fact that unit number 3 and 4 have many machineries which have been installed about 8-9 years ago.
Generation capacity of both these units had also been enhanced to 120 MW each and hence by 2014, this plant had started generating 460 MW power instead of 440 MW which it used to do at the start.”
The union president claimed that after renovation the age of unit 1 had increased to 2020-21 and unit 2 to 2022-23 while age of unit 3&4 had been increased to 2028-29 and 2030-31 but even then, the machinery has been auctioned at a throwaway price, it is indeed a sad day, he added.
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