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Power Inc. corners govt

Ranchi, Nov. 21: Power companies gathered here at a pre-application meet for a proposed 1,320 MW thermal power plant today gave the state government a hard time, questioning officials on contentious issues of land availability and environmental clearances.

A delayed start, repeat screenings of an audio visual clip and prolonged introductions, perhaps laid the groundwork for the tough quizzing both energy secretary Vimal Kirti Singh and Jharkhand State Electricity Board chairman S. N. Verma were subjected to.

Among those present at the conference were representatives from Tata Power, Jindal Power, Adhunik Group, CESC Limited, Dalmiya Bharat, Moserbaer, Essar, Adani Power, Technoprom Export.

All the firms quizzed the state government on the modus operandi to be followed for transfer of land for the project. But by the end of the discussions, most company representatives who spoke to The Telegraph, confided that they weren’t satisfied with the state’s responses.

The conference, arranged by the state energy department at a city hotel, was called to clear doubts and invite suggestions on the tender document for the proposed thermal power plant with an installed capacity of 1,320 MW, which is to come up on 890 acres at Patratu in Ramgrah district.

Singh and Verma, who were at the inauguration of a grid sub station and power transmission lines at Daltonganj, some 180 km from Ranchi, arrived an hour and a half behind schedule.

“We skipped lunch today in a bid to reach Ranchi and be with you all as quickly as possible. We apologise for the delay as we were at an official function at Daltonganj. However, I would like to stress that we mean business and we intend to bring up a new thermal power plant at Patratu at the shortest possible time,” Singh explained to the gathering.

He claimed the state had land and water, as also Banhardih coal block, which was already allotted to JSEB by the Union coal ministry.

“There are no hiccups,he added, trying his best to dispel the impression of Jharkhand as an unfriendly business destination.

Representatives of Jindal Power, Tata Power wanted to know how much time the state government would need to get all the environmental clearances.

The Moserbaer officer pointed out that the proposed bid document was faulty and demanded changes in the eligibility criteria.

Essar and Adani Power wanted to know if the existing probe into the coal allocation scam would have any bearing on the project.

The principal energy secretary, while requesting all parties to give their suggestions in writing, assured them that the state government meant business and that it would try to obtain necessary clearances for the project within a definite time frame.