In a new turn of events, state-owned NTPC Ltd has proposed to implement the 1,000-mw Nabinagar power project on its own. This may come as a big jolt to the railways, which were the sole beneficiary of this project.
The Rs 4,000-crore plus project was conceived as a joint venture of the railways and NTPC in 2002 for meeting the former’s captive power needs. However, the project work has been languishing for over four years now following serious differences between the railways and the power ministry over its implementation.
The issues pertained to the administrative ministry of the joint venture company of NTPC and railways, transmission and distribution of power from the project to the load centres of the railways.
While these issues got resolved after a series of meetings, and the ministry of power had even forwarded a Cabinet note to the finance ministry for its concurrence.
However, the finance ministry raised some major points regarding the mega status, captive beneficiaries of the project, putting a big question mark on the future of this project.
“It was after the issues raised by the finance ministry that we advised NTPC to examine if it would like to set up this project on its own. NTPC chairman, T Shankaralingam has written to us on September 8 that it was willing to take up Nabinagar on its own as a regional project or a inter-regional project,” said a power ministry official, adding that the NTPC board is also being approached shortly in this regard. Power from this project, the official said, may also be made available to the railways as per the allocation decided by the power ministry and subject to the signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with adequate payment security mechanism by the railways.
Interestingly, even though railways minister, Lalu Prasad, was having second thoughts on keeping Nabinagar as the site because it was selected way back in 2002 by Nitish Kumar when he was the railway minister, the recent proposal of NTPC to go solo on the implementation of this project may not be outrightly accepted by the railways, the sole beneficiary of this project. Lalu wanted to shift the plant site to Muzaffarpur, which is his territory.
All the required clearances related to land, environment and fuel are in place for the project at Nabinagar.
Coal India has confirmed the coal availability of this project from its coal fields