The Rs.9,000-crore Udangudi super critical thermal power project in Tuticorin district is all set to take off as the Union Environment and Forests (E&F) Ministry's Expert Appraisal Committee has recommended the project to the Ministry for environmental clearance, which is critical to the project execution.

Executed through the Udangudi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL), a joint venture company floated by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), the power project will have two units of 800 megawatt (MW) each. The plant's efficiency will be higher than the conventional technology, involving less coal utilisation, because of the super critical thermal technology. The project will be implemented over an extent of 760 acres of poromboke land, for which the State government has granted “enter upon” permission. There is no habitation in the vicinity, according to the project promoter.

Senior officials involved in the project, say the Ministry's formal notification is expected in a couple of weeks. As the crucial stage has been passed, the UPCL will hold a meeting of prospective investors shortly to discuss the issue of funding. As of now, TNEB and BHEL will contribute 26 per cent each.

The officials say public sector banks and institutions such as Power Finance Corporation and Rural Electrification Corporation, both coming under the control of the Union Power Ministry, have evinced interest in the project. The Project Appraisal Committee has stipulated a number of conditions. The UPCL should examine in detail the possibility of adopting low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) process for sea water desalination, enlisting the assistance of the National Institute of Ocean Technology. In case this is not feasible, a detailed explanation should be submitted.

Marine biology should not be disturbed due to any activity arising from the operation of the power plant. Continuous monitoring of the marine biology in the area should be undertaken and assessed for any changes beyond the level of natural variability. A comprehensive marine biological quality monitoring programme should be prepared and submitted within six months to the Ministry for immediate implementation.

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