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NTPC to acquire land directly

Calcutta, Dec. 9: Power minister Manish Gupta today said the NTPC would directly buy around 150 acres that remain to be acquired for a proposed plant in Burdwan’s Katwa, the move a first for the central utility that has until now depended on central and state governments for land.

NTPC chairman Arup Roy Chowdhury met Gupta at his residence yesterday, following which the utility decided to start work on the main plant on the 556 acres it already has.

“The NTPC has decided to start work on the main plant. The central utility will also buy the remaining 150 acres directly, with no help from the government. They have already covered much ground for the purchase. There are no more problems. The project will definitely happen,” Gupta said this evening.

The minister declined comment on how the impasse was resolved.

The NTPC had till now never bought land directly for any of its projects. In September, chairman Roy Chowdhury had said that the utility was expecting the state government to acquire land for the 1,320MW Katwa project.

“I will not divulge how the impasse was resolved. Nor am I ready to say how we plan to buy the remaining 150 acres,” Roy Chowdhury said today.

The NTPC had till a few days ago decided to cite the state government’s decision to acquire 11 acres in Rajarhat for a Power Grid Corporation project for its 150 acres in Katwa.

According to NTPC sources, the 556 acres the Left government had acquired in Katwa would be enough for the Rs 10,000-crore main plant. The remaining 150 acres would be required for allied infrastructure, which, the sources said, wouldn’t be needed for at least another four years.

“In that time, the land problem ought to be resolved. We already have letters of consent from over 98 per cent of the 1,000-odd villagers whose 150 acres have been identified,” said a source.

The NTPC had requested the Trinamul government several times to acquire the 150 acres. But Mamata Banerjee had refused to acquire “even an inch”.