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CESC terms for Balagarh

Calcutta, May 8: CESC Ltd has put the onus of reviving the decade-old Balagarh thermal power project on the Mamata Banerjee government.

The RP-Sanjiv Goenka flagship says it will commission the first phase of the Rs 10,500-crore project only when the Bengal government provides the company with a captive coal block or a linkage.

“The ball is in their (state government) court. However, we must add that the administration is very seriously looking at it,” CESC vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka said today. The CESC board today cleared the 1,920 megawatt (MW) project.

Conceived in the early 90s, the stalled power plant will be built in three phases of 660MW each. Goenka said the company would prefer a captive coal block, but a linkage to other mines was also welcome. “It does not matter as long as we have access to coal.”

The company, which produces around 1,200MW in Bengal, has a 997-acre freehold land at Balagarh in Hooghly district. The project is yet to get an environmental clearance from the Centre.

The CESC management had first publicly spoken about reviving the project two years back when former Left MP Anil Basu had threatened to take back the unutilised land.

The Mamata Banerjee government is also trying to ensure that companies do not sit on land, which is already in short supply in Bengal.

Now the onus is on the state government, which is about to complete a year in office later this month, to get the project off the ground. It will be a difficult task as Bengal has not received any coal block from the Centre after December 31, 2007. The central committee that decides on coal linkage has not met for the last two years.

Surge in profit

CESC’s net profit more than doubled to Rs 266 crore during the fourth quarter of 2011-12 from Rs 112 crore a year ago, helped by the tariff revision allowed by the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission. “Of the Rs 266-crore profit, about Rs 135 crore was strictly during the fourth quarter and the rest was because of arrears collected following the tariff revision,” Goenka said.

 
 
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