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CESC seeks more time for its plant

Ranchi, Jan. 31: CESC Limited has sought another three-year extension for its proposed power plant in Dumka that has been hanging fire since 2005-06 owing to various reasons ranging from resistance by villagers to pending clearances.

The state government too is seriously considering the plea of the power major, which is apparently serious about the Jharkhand project that will attract an investment of Rs 4,000-5,000 crore.

On January 24, chief secretary R.S. Sharma held a meeting with state higher-ups and CESC representatives at the state secretariat to take a call on the extension proposal. And if government sources are to be believed, the state administration has accepted the request, though a formal communiqué in this regard is yet to come.

However, energy secretary M.R. Meena said the matter was still under consideration and a decision would be taken soon.

“We are serious about the project in Santhal Pargana region. The government is supportive and we have already started the process for acquiring about 360 acres, including 90 acres government land, at Danro village in Ramgarh block,” executive director (CESC) Vinod Kumar told The Telegraph over phone from Bengal.

Sources said the project that would be implemented in two phases — two 300MW sub-critical units in the first phase followed by a 660MW super critical unit — was given an extension after it missed its 2010 deadline.

It had come to an end in September last year, prompting the company to request for another extension.

Notably, the project, along with several other power and steel projects, has been hanging in balance for the last nine years or so due to villagers’ protests against land acquisition.

Moreover, inordinate delays on part of the company and the government in ensuring clearances for the plant as well as coal block allotted to the company at Mahuagarhi have further complicated the matters.

The project faced a major hurdle in the form of a violent protest in 2008 when villagers, armed with bows and arrows, clashed with police some 3km from Kathikund outpost.

They were protesting against the arrest of Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch activists, who were opposed to the proposed plant.

Two tribal men were killed in police firing, while six villagers and security personnel sustained injuries, in what may be called the first confrontation between industry and rural populace in Jharkhand.

The continuos agitation forced the company to leave its earlier site at Kathikund, and shift to Danro area in neighbouring Ramgarh block of Dumka.

CESC general manager Gautam Banerjee, who looks after the Jharkhand project, said the company was serious about the project here and pursuing the matter in the right earnest.

“Villagers are all supportive. We will follow the consent award route to get the required land on long-term lease. There is no forest stretch in the proposed area,” said Banerjee.

Sources said the chief secretary Sharma asked energy department officials to prepare a comprehensive roadmap of the proposed power plants in terms of production and progress.