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Cabinet nod for NTPC project likely

- Hope in North Karanpura as ministers’ group wants power plant at spot

New Delhi, Dec. 4: The Union cabinet is likely to allow work on the 1,980MW NTPC power plant at North Karanpura to proceed after years of uncertainty over its fate.

Work on the project in Hazaribagh district, first envisaged in 1998, began in 2003 but stalled in mid-2009 as the 1,500 acres it was coming up on was identified as a coal block with reserves to the tune of 6 billion tonnes, prompting the coal ministry to demand shifting of the project site.

“After deliberating over the issue, a group of ministers (GoM), however, decided to give its nod for the project as it is crucial for the state and country and it is not feasible to move the under construction plant due to financial and technical reasons. The matter will soon be set before the cabinet for final clearance,” said a senior power ministry official.

Responding to a question raised by Hazaribagh BJP MP Yashwant Sinha in Parliament last week, minister of state for power Jyotiradatiya Scindia said the Centre had decided to go ahead with the project at North Karanpura.

NTPC spent around Rs 250 crore over six years to set up the plant before the coal ministry objected to the project on the plea that it would block reserves present at the site.

What followed was a turf battle between Coal India Limited (CIL) and NTPC. While CIL contended that the plant would sterilise 6 billion tonne coal, which could be used to produce over 50,000MW of electricity, the power major argued that after investing around Rs 250 crore, it could not withdraw from the site and shift to a new location.

Matters began moving again in July this year, when a group of ministers agreed to the recommendations made by the B.K. Chaturvedi Committee —appointed to review existing and planned hydroelectric projects along the Ganga and its tributaries — that NTPC be allowed to continue at North Karanpura for 25-30 years and thereafter hand over the site to CIL for unlocking the reserves.

“Though the coal ministry countered the decision arguing that if NTPC went ahead with the power plant, heavy blasting, threat of inundation of low lying mines due to flash floods in Garhi reservoir and huge area used for power evacuation corridor will adversely affect the coal block, the GoM set these reservations aside and decided to ask NTPC to take the work forward,” an official said.

He added that NTPC, however, would be asked to scale down the size of the plant area by 40 per cent to 970 acres.


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