Coming up: UMPP-like green nod for big units

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Subhash Narayan | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 29 2014, 07:19am hrs
In what could help power projects totalling 40,000 MW, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is considering delinking green clearances for a host of large thermal power projects from those for captive coal mines attached to them.

This comes days after the Veerappa Moily-led environment ministry offered special dispensation to ultra-mega power projects (UMPPs) by delinking their green nods from environment (EC) and forest clearances (FC) of their captive coal blocks.

Currently, work on end-use projects (cement, steel, power) can be started only after the two green nods EC and FC are given to both projects and the respective captive mines.

In case of UMPPs, these clearances would be given to those coal blocks that do not fall under the category of inviolate forest areas such as tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. At present, ECs for UMPPs each above 4,000 MW- are not given till the time the captive coal block secures these statutory clearances from the MoEF.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has written to Moily as well as sought intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the early grant of EC for 2X660 MW units under Stage-II of Shree Singaji Thermal Power Project in Khandwa district. The project is being constructed by states public sector undertaking MP Power Generating Company (MPPGCL).

We have received a lot of requests from power project developers- both private and public sector units - to grant this concession on the same line as UMPPs so that work on power plants could be expedited. We feel there is no difference between power projects being developed by private companies or PSUs and those in the UMPP category, said an environment official.

Power plants like 1,320 MW Shree Singaji Thermal Power Project being developed by Madhya Pradesh Power Generating Company (MPPGCL) and NTPC's 1,600-MW Gadarwara project and 1,320-MW project each at Barethi and Kahrgopne in MP, the 1,600-MW Kudgi project in Chhattisgarh and 2,400-MW Lara project Karnataka have already sought this relief. Most of these projects are proposed to be scaled up to 4,000 MW capacity, similar to UMPPs, by NTPC later. Several state utilities such as Maghagenco, UPRVUNL, CMDC have also approached for this relaxation that their thermal power projects are not delayed. Private power projects of Visa Power, Essar Power, Jaypee Group, Jindal Power, DB Power, Lanco also expect that delinking should be made a norm so that projects do not suffer.

Sources in the MoEF said that delinking (of EC and FC clearances for projects and captive coal mines) would not apply universally but the ministry would entertain requests from everyone and give such clearances on a case-to-case basis. This would ensure that projects of only serious players get this relaxation.

Early this month, the ministry allowed such delinking for Bedabahal UMPP in Odisha to allow the bidding process for the 4,000-MW project be completed in this fiscal even while EC for the project's captive mines comes later.

The project was allocated three coal blocks, of which Minakshi B and dipside of Minakshi fall in the prohibited region considered too green and called 'no-go' area by the environment ministry to permit mining. The expert appraisal committee of the ministry had taken up these cases last week but is yet to disclose the decision.