P. Manoj

Others States have expressed interest in implementing it

Environmentalists fear that the project will endanger the estuary of the Agnashini river Medha Patkar says it will lead to the displacement of people

Bangalore: The 4,000 MW Tadari thermal power project is facing uncertainty with Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar lending support to the campaign against it. The ultra mega thermal power project is to be implemented at Tadari village near Karwar in the coastal district of Uttar Kannada.

Officials said the project might be shifted from Karnataka if the State was not able to address reservations expressed by environmentalists over the proposed power plant. Other States, including Goa, have expressed interest in implementing the project to tide over acute power shortage.

The Indian Navy is understood to have raised concerns over setting up of the proposed plant near the site of "Project Seabird", the Western Naval Command base being developed in Karwar. "Unless the reservations expressed by environmentalists and the Indian Navy are properly addressed, we cannot start activities," a Union Power Ministry official told The Hindu .

The Power Finance Corporation (PFC), the nodal agency that is implementing the project, has received expressions of interest (EoIs) from 20 private entities for developing the project. The Union Government has appointed Wapcos to take up onsite activities, such as geo-technical and environment impact assessment (EIA) studies. "For carrying out the geo-technical and EIA studies, we have to get clearance from the State Government. And, unless an amicable atmosphere is created, we cannot start (the studies)," the official said.

Karnataka is banking on the proposed coal-based power plant to ease its peak power shortage of 1,500 MW to a large extent. The Tadari plant is one of the five ultra mega thermal power projects planned by the Union Government with private sector participation, on BOO (build, own and operate) basis to enable quick capacity addition in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

At a conservative estimate of Rs. 4 crore per MW, the project is estimated to cost Rs. 16,000 crore. Given the economies of scale, the proposed plant is expected to generate power at Rs. 1.50 to Rs 1.80 a unit.

Environmentalists fear that the project will endanger the estuary of the Agnashini river, one of the 18 bio-diversity hot spots in the world. Ms. Patkar says the project will "destroy the ecology of the sensitive Western Ghats region and displace people".

The Union Government has incorporated five special purpose vehicles (SPVs) as subsidiaries of the PFC for executing each of the ultra mega thermal power projects.