With Orissa dragging its feet, progress on NTPC’s Rs 11,400 crore Darlipali power project and the linked Dulanga coal mine has been hanging fire for want of requisite clearances and the physical possession of land.
This is despite the chiefs of both NTPC Ltd and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), in a meeting with chief minister Naveen Patnaik on November 22, being assured of the availability of land for the 1,600 MW Darlipali project by December 10, 2012 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 2012. Both these are still pending.
For the project, NTPC finalised the main plant equipment order in November 2011. Despite a lapse of 14 months, the projects have 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 will expire on January 31, 2013.
In view of the delays, power ministry Jyotiraditya Scindia has written to Patnaik earlier this month (January 3) seeking his intervention to sort out the issues, following up on a series of letters written by his predecessors, 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 for the project. Prior to this, on April 7, 2012, a meeting between Patnaik and Shinde was held, where the issue of Darlipali came up.
Sources in the Union Power Ministry said the delays faced by the project could be the fallout of a “private sector push” that the state administration was focused on, especially in the power sector.
Efforts made by the Indian Express to contact the Orissa government to get their view on the issue proved futile.
According to Orissa government officials, however, the issues (relating to clearances for Darlipali) were “procedural” in nature and that the state was “making efforts” to expedite them. 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, the home state.
NTPC currently has two projects in Orissa, Talcher Thermal station (460 MW) and Talcher Kaniha station (3000 MW). Situated at the Sundargarh district, the Darlipali project is to get coal from Dulanga Mine and water from the Hirakud Reservoir.
As a corporate social responsibility initiative, NTPC also plans to set up a 400-bed hospital in Sundergarh as soon as the Darlipali and Dulanga projects attain financial closure, a commitment reiterated by Scindia in his January 3 missive to Patnaik.