Sujay Mehdudia

To look into cost escalation

NEW DELHI: An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) will visit the controversial Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra on Monday to take stock of the situation there including the massive cost escalation.

The plant, run by the Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Limited (RGPPL), is expected to become fully operational by March next, according to Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora.

The EGoM, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was invited by the Maharashtra Government to inaugurate the commissioning of block II of 740 MW and supervise the revival of block I of 740 MW that was shut down in May 2001.

At present, 1,300 MW is generated from blocks II and III. The RGPPL expects that block I, which is under repair, will start operations in March 2008.

The EGoM’s visit comes at a time when it is already looking into the issue of sharing the burden of the increased cost of the project cost, from Rs. 10,303 crore to over Rs. 12,500 crore, among the National Thermal Power Corporation, the Gas Authority of India Limited, the Union Power Ministry and the Maharashtra government.

Mr. Deora said the five million tonnes-a-year Liquefied Natural Gas import and re-gasification terminal adjacent to the power plant was expected to be completed without breakwater by December 2008. “This terminal will become fully operational after the completion of the breakwater facilities in March 2011.”

Others in the EGoM are Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr. Deora, Law and Justice Minister H.R. Bhardwaj and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.

Mr. Deora is unlikely to join the Ministers visiting the plant because of his other engagements.