Essar Power plant at Tori in rebel-hit Latehar
Ranchi, Aug. 28: The Centre has cleared Essar Power’s proposed 1,800MW Tori project in Chandwa area of Latehar district, giving the ambitious venture conceived in 2008-09 a much-needed boost.
Among the 36 power and infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.83 lakh crore that was cleared by the high-powered cabinet committee on infrastructure (CCI) in New Delhi yesterday in a bid to shore up investor sentiment at a time of the free fall of the rupee, Essar Power is the only entity from Jharkhand.
Finance minister P. Chidambaram is learnt to have said that the matter of Essar Power’s 1,800MW thermal plant was likely to be resolved by September 20 as far as various statutory clearances were concerned.
Most clearances for the coal-based power plant project are related to environment and forest norms.
If all goes well, the Centre’s move to inject optimism in the floundering economy by clearing projects — in layman’s language, giving nod to proposals that are stuck in regulatory tangles — will tangibly benefit Essar Power as well as the rebel-hit pocket of Latehar and Jharkhand as a whole.
According to the MoU with the state government, Essar Power is supposed to give 25 per cent of power produced from Tori to Jharkhand, with the state enjoying the “first right of refusal”.
A senior company official welcomed the central move, saying completion of the Tori project hinged on punctual regulatory approvals.
“If environment and forest clearances are pending, construction slows down. This had happened in the past year. Financial institutions stopped funding the project for want of clearances,” he said.
Essar has already invested over Rs 2,500 crore in Tori.
Chimneys, administrative buildings, roads, offices, water reservoir, have been constructed. Earlier, the Tori project, in its first phase, was expected to be operational from December 2013, but now the deadline to commission the plant has been pushed to mid-2015.
“This step from the Centre will definitely help in speedy disposal of pending clearances and expedite completion of our Jharkhand projects. As an industry we are looking at it as a positive move for Jharkhand’s overall development,” the official added.
At the end of March 2013, the progress of construction for Tori I (1,200MW) and Tori II (600MW) stood at 42 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively, a company communique issued on August 22 said.
Earlier this month, Essar Power announced the appointment of B.H. Ravindra as the managing director of its Jharkhand operations to resurrect and fast track the Tori power plant.
Vikram Singh Gaur, special secretary in the state energy department, which monitors the day-to-day developments of proposed power projects, said he was yet to be officially told about the CCI decisions.
“At the level of the state, no statutory clearance is pending. According to my knowledge, work on the project is going on. If the CCI has decided to clear issues related to statutory clearances, it will certainly boost the commissioning of the project,” he told The Telegraph.