Strange as it seems, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and higher
education positively fortifies it
- Stephen Vizinczey, author
In India setting up a mega project also means inviting mega problems. There
are innumerable clearances one has to obtain and umpteen departments one has to
run around. Even after taking all this trouble, project developer will not be
sure whether he has complied with all the provisions of the land.
For setting up a thermal power plant, clearances have to be obtained by the
project developer from as many as 10 different authorities besides getting
investment clearances from financial institutions and public investment board in
respect of projects taken up by PSUs. There are many instances where projects
were delayed because clearances were not forthcoming in time. The situation will
be even worse when a project involves more than one state.
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For example, Vindhyachal Stage III was delayed by more than four years only
because necessary clearances regarding water commitment were made available by
CWC/the ministry of water resources after four years from the date of
applications. These clearances, including those from the ministry of environment
and forest regarding site and environment should have been given within one
Vindhyachal Stage IIII project was taken up for commissioning by NTPC.
Applications for obtaining water clearance/environmental clearance were
submitted by NTPC in time. But it took an exceptionally long time of four years
for obtaining water clearance from the Central Water Commission/ the ministry of
water resources as water source was from an inter-state river basin where the
concerned basin states -- Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar -- did not
arrive at consensus on water sharing.
There was a move to create a Special Purpose Vehicle with an objective to
coordinate with the MOEF and the State Forest Departments. A draft Memorandum of
Understanding between the ministry of power and the ministry of environment and
forest towards this objective was prepared. However, this draft is pending with
MOEF since September 20, 2001, with no further action being taken. This shows
the lack of seriousness of the ministries to resolve issues.
The government has set itself an ambitious target of adding one lakh MW of
additional power generation capacity by the end of 11th plan. Most of this will
happen in the thermal sector. If the files move from one ministry to another at
the same pace at which they have been doing for years, then we may not be able
to achieve this target even in the next 50 years. A recent Standing Committee
recommendation that a Central committee consisting of officials from the
ministries of power, water resources and environment and forests and other
related departments should be created to provide all clearances to the power
projects in a time-bound manner should be given a favourable consideration.