9 power projects to get green light

Written by Sanjay Jog | Sandip Das | Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: Sep 8 2009, 07:11am hrs
A clutch of large power projects, with a total generation capacity of 39,567 mw, is expected to receive final environmental clearance this month. The environmental appraisal committee for thermal power projects, attached to the ministry of environment & forests, will take up the nine proposals at its meeting this week.

Each of the projects will add at least 1,000 mw to the national grid. The list includes the 4,000-mw Mundra ultra mega power project, a 3,330-mw Adani group project in Gujarat, besides a 2,000-mw ISN International pithead project in Madhya Pradesh.

The committee's approval will enable the promoters to go for financial closure. Environmental approval is one of the major clearances that financial institutions require for the release of project finance. The promoters will be hoping to raise Rs 1.78 lakh crore to finance the projects at an estimated cost of Rs 4.5 crore per mw--a substantial sum considering that non-food credit has risen by only Rs 3.92 lakh crore, just a 14.8% rise according to RBI data for the fortnight ended August 28.

The clearances are part of the UPA governments push to clear the backlog of investment projects held up for environment-related reasons. The number of pending projects as on September 1 is 207, including 25 thermal power projects.

Top government sources told FE, This is quite crucial as utilities from both the private and public sectors have repeatedly argued that delays in environmental clearance have been major roadblocks in carrying out timely project development. Timely clearances for projects had come up for discussion on June 23 at a meeting convened by the power ministry with state power ministers.

The environmental clearance process is a three-stage one. Once a project authority has submitted an application along with all requisite documents, an environmental impact assessment is prepared. The assessment is scrutinised by the technical staff of the ministry before placing it before the environmental appraisal committee.

The committee evaluates the impact of the project and, if necessary, conducts on-site visits. Only after that does it make recommendations for approval or rejection of the project for the ministry to act upon.

The power capacity addition target for the 11 th Plan period is 78,700 mw. The Central Electricity Authority has already prepared a blueprint for the 12th Plan projecting a capacity addition of 80,000 mw at an investment of Rs 11.95 lakh crore.