Start production or turn plant into memorial: Sukhbir to firm

According to sources,in a recent meeting between company and government officials,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has made it clear that their power will “not be needed” if the firm continued to delay the commissioning of the first unit of the project.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh | Updated: April 14, 2014 3:01:57 pm

The fate of the 1,980-MW thermal power plant in Talwandi Sabo in Punjab is now in serious doldrums with the state government having made it clear to Sterlite Energy Limited (SEL) — the company setting up the plant — that if it did not start production on time,the plant can be converted into a “memorial” by the company.

According to sources,in a recent meeting between company and government officials,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has made it clear that their power will “not be needed” if the firm continued to delay the commissioning of the first unit of the project.

Sukhbir is learnt to have told the company that Punjab will not allow the company to delay commissioning by revoking the penalty clause and “if the company was having such a problem in starting production,it can leave the project and convert it into a memorial”.

The government’s harsh stand follows the company’s reported inability to commission the project on time due to acute shortage of coal. The first unit of the plant was to begin production in August. Sterlite Energy Limited (a Vedanta group company) is setting up three units of 660 MW each in Talwandi Sabo and is the largest power plant among those coming up in the state.

“Shortage of coal is not something which only the Talwandi Sabo plant is facing. The situation is the same for the companies setting up the plants in Rajpura and Goindwal Sahib. But they are starting production ahead of schedule,” Sukhbir told The Indian Express.

He added that while the first unit of the Goindwal Sahib thermal power project will be commissioned August 15,the first unit of the Rajpura plant will be commissioned on December 8 — which also happens to be the birthday of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The 540-MW Goindwal Sahib plant is being set up by GVK Power and Infrastructure in Tarn Taran. It has two units of 270 MW each. The 1400-MW Rajpura plant is being set up by L&T Development Limited and its first unit of 700 MW is expected to be completed much before schedule. When contacted,Principal Secretary (Power) Anirudh Tewari said L&T has also signed a fuel supply agreement with Coal India limited. “GVK is expected to follow suit,” he said.

With the commissioning of these two power plants,next year’s peak summer requirement of power will be met in Punjab. During the winters,the state will be power surplus. “The peak requirement of power in summers is around 9000 to 1,0000 MW. The installed capacity currently is 7,200 MW. With an additional 1,000 MW,we will be very comfortable in the next summer. In winters,when the requirement is down to 5,000 MW we can trade in power,” said Tewari.

Earlier,the companies setting up power plants in the state had asked the government to arrange for coal for the plants,but the government had refused to do so pointing out that coal linkage was to be given by the Centre.

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