UP dials NTPC after Jaypee pulls plug on power project

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow | Updated: Dec 25 2013, 10:52am hrs
Almost seven years after bagging the project and following a series of hiccups in land acquisition, Jaypee Infratech has finally conveyed to the UP government its unwillingness to construct the 1,320-MW Karchana power project in Allahabad.

A desperate state government has now initiated talks with the central PSU, NTPC, to take over the project. According to sources in the state government, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav was scheduled to meet NTPC chairman and MD later in the day.

"The CM is meeting the CMD of NTPC, along with the principal secretary power, Sanjay Agarwal, to discuss the issue. The government has put the process on fast track and it is now almost certain that the project will go to the NTPC," a source said, adding that the CM had already asked senior officials of the power department to rope in other developers for Karchana power plant in case Jaypee was unwilling to construct the project.

"There could be two ways of going forward on this: One way is to go for a rebidding and the other is to invite a state entity such as NTPC or UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam to develop it," said the official.

"For NTPC, this can be a boon as it already has a power plant Meja in the same vicinity," the official said, adding that the only bone of contention could be the power-sharing formula.

"While the state government will try to stick to its stand of getting 90% power from the project, the NTPC may stick to the Gadgil Formula," he said.

The state government, in October, asked the district administration to go ahead and hand over the land to the developer and ask them to start work on it as none of the owners (farmers) whose land had been acquired had come forward to give the compensation money and take back their land as directed by the high court.

Of the 518 hectares of land in possession of the district administration, small plots of about 50-odd hectares are still a bone of contention as these farmers were not ready to part with their lands.

Farmers of these plots have been holding protests on the site and have been holding up the project.

Referring to the delay in the project, the Jaypee group expressed its apprehension and said while on the one hand, it was not given total possession of the land, on the other hand, prices had shot up several times over the last seven years, making the project unviable at the old rates.