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Coal comfort for Jindal project

Biswadip Gupta in Calcutta on Friday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

Calcutta, Aug. 22: The Centre has cleared mining from three coal mines linked to Jindal’s steel and power plant in Bengal even as the fate of the Rs 20,000-crore project remains in a limbo over differences between the private promoter and the Mamata Banerjee-government.

Biswadip Gupta, regional director — Bengal Projects, JSW Ltd, today said the coal ministry had given approval to the West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation (WBMDTC) to develop the mines in private partnership (JSW Group). This will ensure coal linkage for the Salboni project, which is delayed by many years for several reasons.

“Three mines have been recently cleared. Two are located in the Raniganj-Asansol belt and the other in Durgapur. We are ready with the coal,” Gupta said on the sidelines of a manufacturing summit of the CII today.

The state entity now needs clearance from the environment ministry before opening the pit. However, this may be delayed because of the absence of either the power or the steel plant.

After the investors’ meet in Mumbai where chief minister Banerjee had met JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal, Gupta said the Bengal government had asked the company to rework the project by building the power plant first.

For this, the agreement with the WBMDTC and the state power utility has to be changed to alter the nature of the power plant from a captive power plant to an independent power plant.

However, the power department has not only turned down the change but also sent a termination notice to cancel the power purchase agreement with JSW.

According to the agreement inked in 2007, the state was to buy 528MW of the 1,320MW JSW had proposed to generate.

Till these issues are sorted out, Jindal is unlikely to start construction.

 
 
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