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Orissa set to taste Anil thunder

Bhubaneswar, July 21: Anil Ambani today signed a deal with the Orissa government under which his group will invest Rs 67,500 crore in the state. A task force has been set up to work out the modalities for a number of projects. The centrepiece is a 12,000 mw thermal power plant ' the world’s largest pithead power plant. Other projects include plans for Dhirubhai knowledge city and a health city.

The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group will set up the mega power plant at Hirma in the western district of Jharsuguda, about 350 km from Bhubaneswar at a cost of Rs 55,000 crore ' almost five times the amount being spent by his group for the 3,740 mw gas-based Dadri power project in Uttar Pradesh. The group will also invest Rs 10,000 crore for distribution and evacuation of power .

Anil agreed with chief minister Naveen Patnaik when he said Orissa would soon become the country's powerhouse. Ambani said his group would build a 3,960 mw (6 x 660 mw) power plant in the first phase at an investment of Rs 18,000 crore and then expand it by 1000 mw in the next eight years.

The primary fuel for the project will be domestic coal, which will be sourced from the Ib Valley coal fields, located about 40 km from the project site. The company has already submitted a preliminary project report for the first phase.

The younger Ambani scion said the project would have a double feedstock option. If exploration for oil and gas off the Orissa coast was successful, Anil said he was prepared to source gas to run the project.

Patnaik said Orissa has 61 billion tonnes of coal reserves, accounting for 25 per cent of the country’s coal and can sustain a power generation capacity of up to 1,00,000 mw for a century. “A large part of the proposed projects would be translated into reality. We will work shoulder to shoulder to change the future of the state,” he said.

Besides the power project, Reliance ADAG would pump in another Rs 2,000 crore in the IT and communication sector. It plans to set up an institute of higher learning in IT in Bhubaneswar as part of the Dhirubhai Ambani University. A software development centre, a BPO hub and a data storage and management centre for use by the industry or the government is also on the cards. The software complex would be spread over 300 acres in Bhubaneswar.

A health city with hospitals, research centres and medical education facilities is being planned in Bhubaneswar at an investment of Rs 500 crore.

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