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Red tape stalls project

- Chandrapur power station awaits central clearances

March 21: Red tape, in the form of forest and environment clearances, is holding up the revival of the 60MW Chandrapur Thermal Power Station, which is crucial for the city to wriggle out of the power shortfall.

A proposal to refurbish the power plant was to be discussed at yesterday’s standing committee meeting of the National Board for Wildlife in New Delhi but Assam chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand’s absence put paid to the plan.

Sources said any project falling within 10km of a national park or sanctuary has to be cleared by the chief wildlife warden and the Chandrapur power station is located within 10km of the Amchang and Pobitora wildlife sanctuaries.

“The proposal has been deferred as the chief wildlife warden was not present,” a source said.

The chief warden had recommended the proposal with four conditions — the maintenance of a minimum 100 metres of green belt around the project location by planting indigenous fast-growing tree species in consultation with the state forest department; plantation of trees at least 30 metres from the bank of rivers/streams or existing water courses to guard these and plantation of trees on vacant and unutilised space inside the project area. Moreover, officials of the state forest department should be empowered to inspect the project site any time to collect samples and there should be no limitations on them calling for any information.

The sources said they had no idea when the next meeting of the wildlife board would be held. This means that the forest clearance will be further delayed and so will be the commissioning of the project.

The ministry of environment and forests has also not cleared the project, as many issues, including secure coal linkage, are yet to be resolved.

The city has been experiencing an increasing demand for power during the past few years, primarily because of largescale development of infrastructure and abrupt growth in commercial and industrial activities in and around it.

The peak demand of about 90MW during 2006 has shot up to around 200MW now. The state power department was hoping that the Chandrapur project would start generating power this year.

The plant was set up in the early seventies primarily to supply power to Guwahati. Its first unit was commissioned in March 1973 and the second unit started functioning in January 1989. But operation of both units was suspended in 1999 following a steep increase in fuel prices.

The refurbishment of the project, which is now being executed by a joint venture company, is to be done by replacing the existing oil-fired boilers by coal-based ones.

Imperial APGCL Power Limited, a joint venture company comprising Imperial Energy and Construction Private Limited, Imperial Fastners Private Limited, Intelli Mine Incorporated and Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited (APGCL), is executing the revamp project.

While the Imperial group has 74 per cent equity stake in the project, APGCL’s stake is 26 per cent.


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