Meena Menon

Maharashtra blames Gujarat for delaying crucial project

  • Maharashtra has appealed to the Centre to intervene
  • According to GAIL, which is building the pipeline, it should have been completed by March, 2007
  • MUMBAI: The Gujarat Government has refused to permit construction on a 12-km section of the Dahej-Uran gas pipeline in Surat, which will delay commissioning of the Dabhol power project. This was expected to bail Maharashtra out of its power crisis.

    Maharashtra's Energy Minister Dilip Walse Patil told reporters on Monday that despite various attempts at the highest level to persuade Gujarat to grant permission for the pipeline, things had taken a turn for the worse and all work on the pipeline was stalled in Surat. The State has written to the Centre seeking an immediate solution to this impasse.

    The gas pipeline from Dahej in Gujarat up to Uran in Maharashtra will go on to Dabhol to provide the much needed gas linkage to revive the project. If Gujarat has any problem with the pipeline, it should take it up with the Centre, Mr. Patil said. "Why should the people of Maharashtra suffer?" he asked.

    Since the gas availability has been tied up for two years and a fresh power purchase agreement was recently signed, everything was set for the Dabhol project to provide up to 2100 MW of power by this year-end, Mr. Patil said. According to the timeline by Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), which is building the pipeline, it should have been completed by March 31, 2007 and then it would have been possible to start block 2 and block 3 of the Dabhol power project revived by Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Limited (RGPPL) on gas from May 31, 2007. This would have added about 1400 MW to the State, which is facing a shortfall of about 6000 MW.

    As a result of the delay, the State would face further shortfalls and continue to reel under a power crunch. Also running the plant on naphtha would increase the cost of power. According to an official statement, work on 12 km in Chorasiya taluka of Surat district has been stopped by villagers from Kajod, Gabbeni, Talangpur and Umbrad who have demanded a re-routing of the pipeline through the coastal area.

    On February 28, 2007, GAIL surveyed a new route and applied for permission for laying the pipeline and a notification was also published in the government gazette for laying the new route.

    GAIL, which is working against a deadline set by the EGOM, did approach people to get clearance for the pipeline and started to work on it. However, on April 11, the Surat Collector told GAIL to stop work despite the EGOM deadline, till formal permission was received. On April 21, the Deputy Collector ordered seizure of all equipment and asked GAIL to remove the pipes within five days.