MoP approves Bhadradri project, but with a rider

March 08, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:42 am IST - HYDERABAD:

After impediments pertaining to environment clearance and a case filed in the National Green Tribunal, the latest challenge faced by the Bhadradri Thermal Power Station at Manuguru in Khammam district is the conditional approval granted by the Ministry of Power (MoP).

The MoP, while approving the project’s use of sub-critical technology, added a caveat that the project should be commissioned within the 12th Plan period, that is, before March 31, 2017. Citing guidelines framed in 2009, the ministry’s letter reiterated that any coal based capacity addition in 13{+t}{+h}Plan and beyond should employ supercritical technology alone.

The conditional approval followed hectic parleys between state government and the MoP, with Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao visiting Delhi and addressing a letter to the ministry last month. It may be recalled that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment & Forests asked TSGENCO to obtain approval from the MoP for the sub-critical technology, only after which Environmental Clearance (EC) would be granted.

If the MoP’s caveat is to be honoured, the 4X270 MW project still awaiting EC, has only a year left for completion. As per the initial agreement, the project implementing agency, BHEL, is to hand over the first unit in 24 months and the remaining units in next nine months. The project site was entrusted to BHEL in March last, and by next March-- the deadline set by MoP-- the agency is required to hand over only one unit of the four. Works for the project began last year even without the EC, which was challenged by Human Rights Forum (HRF) in the National Green Tribunal as violating the Environment Act. In December last, the NGT ordered for works to be stopped till EC is obtained, which has caused further delay. With public hearing for the plant scheduled for March 17, it could take about three months till the matter comes up before the EAC and EC is granted.

The challenge before the TSGENCO and BHEL now would be to complete all the four units in nine months roughly, which is highly improbable proposition, say experts. Further, the appellants to the NGT are planning to approach the court seeking action against the TSGENCO officials, for beginning the works without EC.

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