The Rs.9,000-crore, 1,600-megawatt (MW) Udangudi supercritical thermal power project in Tuticorin district still remains on paper, though over three years have passed since the erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) and BHEL signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement it.
When the MoU was signed in October 2007 in the presence of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Santosh Mohan Deb, the project was described as an epoch-making one.
An official release issued then stated that the project would be commissioned by 2011.
Yet to get coal linkage
But the project is yet to get coal linkage. It is because of this reason that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to keep in abeyance grant of environmental clearance. Consequently, the funding arrangement has not been firmed up.
In November 2008, the two principal promoters of the project, TNEB and BHEL, signed another MoU to set up a special purpose vehicle, Udangudi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL). In February 2009, Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami laid the foundation stone for the project in the presence of Union Minister of State for Commerce and Energy Jairam Ramesh at Udangudi.
Conceding that there has been time overrun in securing coal linkage, a top official of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), a successor entity of the TNEB, says the issue, which has been pending for several months, will be placed in the next meeting of the Union Coal Ministry's Standing Linkage Committee. On getting the coal linkage, the environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests will be received.
[According to the project status page on the website of the UPCL, the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for thermal power and coal mine projects, in its meeting on May 1, 2010, recommended that the project be given environmental clearance].
As per the authorities' plan, 70 per cent of the coal requirements will be met from domestic sources.
The TANGEDCO official says the preliminary work of filling up lands and construction of compound wall at the site has begun.
According to the present estimate, the first unit of the proposed power plant is expected to be commissioned by March 2013.