Ultra power projects hit a roadblock

New Delhi, Nov 17 | Updated: Nov 18 2005, 05:51am hrs
Non-availability of coal linkages may put a spoke in the power ministrys big-ticket plans of inviting global bids for coal-based ultra power projects of 4,000 mega watt each.

The power ministry is keen that independent power producers be handed over proven coal blocks, since it would be otherwise difficult for them to tie up funding.

As of now, all proven coal blocks are with Coal India Limited (CIL). Sources said the issue may now be referred to either the committee of secretaries (CoS) or the energy co-ordination committee (ECC) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The power ministry has already asked the department of coal to identify suitable coal blocks in the fields of Tacher, Ib-Valley, Singrauli and Korba that may be allocated to the proposed ultra thermal power projects of 4,000 mw. The department of coal is yet to take a view on this issue.

While the blocks in each coalfield should have mineable reserves of 700-1,000 MT, those offered by the coal department are small blocks which will not be able to sustain the requirement for projects of 4,000 mw.

Public sector power major National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is struggling since March this year for allocation of coal blocks for similar large projects it plans to develop as integrated coal mining- cum-power projects.

The projects of NTPC are the 4,000 mw Lara project in Chattisgarh, 3,200 mw Derang project in Orissa and the 3,200 mw Darlipali project in Orissa. It is also setting up a 500 mw Farrakka-III project in West Bengal under this programme.

NTPC and the power ministry have repeatedly written to the department of coal for allocation of blocks for these projects on a priority basis under the captive/ government dispensation route. NTPC has now offered to develop these blocks through as joint ventures with Coal India Limited or its subsidiaries.