After having taken years to carry out the spadework, the Central authorities have floated bids for 4000-megawatt (MW) Cheyyur Ultra Mega Power Project in Kancheepuram district, about 100 km south of Chennai.

Estimated to cost about Rs. 24,000 crore, the project envisages the supply of 1,600 MW to Tamil Nadu. About six and a half years ago, the State government paid commitment money of Rs. 16 crore. In the event of commissioning of the project, Karnataka has been allocated 800 MW while Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra will get 400 MW each; Kerala and Uttar Pradesh – 300 MW each and Punjab – 200 MW.

The proposed plant will use imported coal, for which a captive port will be set up. The annual coal requirement of the plant will be around 12 million tonnes to 14 million tonnes. Totally, about 1,110 acres are required, for which the process of land acquisition is underway. The value of land cost has been approved and it comes to around Rs. 82 crore.

To be carried out in two stages, the process of selecting a developer is scheduled to be completed by March 28, 2014 with the signing of power purchase agreement (PPA), even though the validity of bids will be up to June 4, 2014, for legal reasons. On signing of the PPA, the Coastal Tamil Nadu Power Limited, a subsidiary of the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and the present project proponent, will hand over the project to the developer.

The Cheyyur project is the second ultra mega power project to be taken up in the southern region, the other being the Krishnapatnam project in Andhra Pradesh. However, the execution of the Krishnapatnam project has come to a halt due to problems in getting coal from Indonesia.

In respect of the Cheyyur project, most of the statutory clearances have been obtained from the authorities concerned, according to bid documents for the project [hosted on the PFC website]. With regard to the crucial environment clearance, the Expert Appraisal Committee has recommended the project to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. Even as the authorities are going ahead with the project, there is a view in certain sections that it would be better to locate the project to north of Chennai where a few thermal power projects have already come up and some more are under execution.

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