Power units: China staff get reprieve

Written by Sanjay Jog | Gunjan Sharma | Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: Sep 19 2009, 06:33am hrs
Power projects
Work on about 21,000 mw of power projects, which should account for more than a quarter of Indias projected capacity addition by 2011, have escaped major disruption by the month-end, with the government allowing the visa conversion of about 30,000 Chinese nationals employed in the projects.

High level government sources said the power ministry has successfully interceded with the home ministry to allow staggered repatriation of the Chinese staff in these 14 private sector projects. These employees have single- or multiple-entry business visas, which they would need to convert to employment visas from the Indian mission in Beijing.

The sources said so far only about 6,000 of these Chinese workers have obtained the employment visa. The government is determined to ensure

that proper procedures are followed by the companies employing foreign workers.

While the home ministry is sure that no extension of the deadline of September 30 could be allowed, the power ministry is concerned that the sudden repatriation would disrupt the schedule of the projects by a few months, disrupting the completion date. So while no timeline has been set for the process to be completed, the power ministry expects each worker will be able to go back home and return in less than two months.

The projects are parts of 78,700 mw addtional power the ministry expects to add by the end of the 11th Plan.

The home ministry order had specified that foreign nationals holding business visa and engaged in executing projects/contracts should leave the country on the expiry of their existing visa or within three months by September 30, whichever is earlier.

The repatriation of such a large number of employees could have also raised a diplomatic issue, which has now been papered over.