If the number of power projects getting stranded due to lack of clearances is any indication, the Union Power Ministry is slowly but surely becoming powerless much to the chagrin of project developers. With its intervention with other ministries and the state governments having no impact, the Power Ministry has now approached the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) for supporting in expediting clearances in respect of some power projects. Indeed the amount at stake is too huge (approximately Rs. 40,000 crore) to be ignored. Some of the power projects facing delay due to lack of clearances are listed below:

Meenakshi Energy’s 1,000 MW Nellore power project:
While getting environment clearance (EC) is a mammoth task, Meenakshi Energy has committed a blunder by allowing it to expire. EC granted for the second phase of Meenakshi Energy’s 1,000 MW thermal power project located in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh expired on July 1, 2013. While Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has recommended extension of validity period of the EC in its meeting held on May 20, 2013, formal letter if consent from the MoEF is awaited. The Ministry of Power is knocking at the doors of CCI to seek its support to secure the extension. Meenakshi Energy’s first phase of the project with a capacity of 300 MW is already under operation.

Sagar supercritical thermal project:
Universal Crescent Power Private Limited who is implementing 1,980 MW imported coal fired power plant at an estimated cost of Rs. 8,600 crore has completed the land acquisition process and has signed Fuel Supply Agreement as well as PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). However, the company is unable to cross the last hurdle, that is, the EC and Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Clearance. Sagar Supercritical Thermal Project at Nayachar Island, in District Purba Medinipur, West Bengal is in a spot as the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) feels that the site selected for the project is ecologically fragile and sensitive. EAC in its meeting held September, 19 felt further deliberation is needed to accept the suitability of the site for setting up the project. Ministry of Power has reportedly approached the CCI to take up the matter with the MoEF.

Machhakata-Mahanadi coal block:
Machhakata-Mahanadi Coal Block, allotted in 2006 for captive mining to MAHAGENCO and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL), has been delayed due to a slew of pending clearances from the Odisha government. Mahaguj Collieries Ltd is the joint venture formed between Mahagenco and GSECL to mine and share the production in 60:40 ratio. Mahagenco was supposed to use the coal from the block for generating power from Parli (250 MW), Chandrapur (1000MW), Koradi (1980 MW), Bhusawal (660 MW) and Dhopave (1980 MW) whereas GSECL will use it for Wanakbori (800 MW), Ukai (500 MW), Dholera (1600 MW) and Sinor (1600 MW). MCL is also planning 2,500 MW (10X250MW) thermal power project based on wastes from coal washeries.

The Odisha government is demanding 25% free power from thermal power plants and 33% from plants generating power from rejects of washed coal. In fact, the Odisha government has restricted land acquisition outside coal block area for supporting infrastructure and over burden dumping which is adversely impacting Mine Plan for development of the coal block. Also there is strong resistance from local residents to part with their land. Development of mining block has made no progress so far as the Odisha government has not yet issued Mining Lease and Environment and Forest clearances are also pending. Even land acquisition has not made any progress. Repeated requests from the Power Ministry have had little impact on the state government which has forced the former to approach CCI for intervention.

Hinduja National Power Corporation’s 1050 MW Vishakhapatnam thermal power project:
Foundation stone for 2×525 MW Vishakhapatnam thermal power project by Hinduja National Power Corporation Limited was laid in 1994 and PPA was also signed in the same year but the project is yet to see the completion till date. The project has crossed all the hurdles but one, that is, Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearance. According MoEF the state government has not yet submitted report regarding alleged violation of the CRZ by the developer. Rs 5,545 crore project for which FSA has already been signed is likely to be commissioned in March 2014. But the CRZ clearance is pending with the MoEF for a long time and now the Ministry of Power has sought the direction of the CCI in the matter.

1,080 MW Rajwest pithead thermal power project:
For the 1,080 MW Rajwest Pithead Thermal Power Project in Rajasthan the main hurdle is in the form of enhancement of capacity of linked mines. The Rajwest 1,080 MW pithead TPP has been allocated two lignite mines, Kapurdi and Jalipa, of which Kapurdi mine is currently operational at 3 MTPA. This capacity, however, is sufficient to run the plant only upto October, 2013. Thus there is an urgent need to get the mine plan and mine closure plan approved. Ministry of Power wants the CCI to seek Ministry of Coal’s intervention and get the approval without further delay.

Also the mining project need environment clearance as the capacity expansion is more than 25%. Though the EAC has cleared the project, Ministry of Power wants CCI to intervene with the MoEF to expedite the matter. In case of Jalipa mine, land acquisition issues are holding back the project. Also transfer of mining lease from Rajasthan State Mines and Minerals to Barmer Lignite Mining Company Limited yet to take place.

Fatehpur coal block:
In case of SKS Power Generation Chhattisgarh Limited’s 1, 200 MW project, issue of Prospecting License (PL) is pending for Fatehpur Coal Block at Chhattisgarh state government level. The state government reportedly has demanded firm coordinates while the company had sent approximate coordinates from CMPDI (Central Mine Planning and Design Institute). Ministry of power has approached the CCI to take up the matter with the state government to expedite the issue of PL.

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