Patratu hits JV mode

NTPC to hold majority stake, promises to retain workforce

By RUDRA BISWAS in Ranchi
  • Published 24.04.15
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Ranchi, April 23: Jharkhand government and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) today reached a broad consensus on converting the state's oldest thermal power generating unit at Patratu into a joint venture company that will absorb in its rolls all existing manpower.

"The state government will hold 26 per cent share in the new company while NTPC would hold majority stake of 74 per cent. The new company will set up a thermal power plant with an installed capacity of 4,000MW, comprising five units of 800MW each, on vacant land at Patratu Thermal Power Station (PTPS) in Ramgarh district," chief secretary Rajiv Gauba told The Telegraph after chairing a meeting of a high-powered committee.

The committee set up under his chairmanship - today was its fourth meeting - would now submit final report to the state government with details of the agreement reached with NTPC.

From here on, the joint venture proposal has to survive a host of clearances, but officials agreed that the crucial spadework had been done and all parties were on the same page.

"There is no takeover of PTPS by NTPC, rather a joint venture is being mooted for the ageing thermal power station," Gauba clarified, adding, "there is also no proposal of handing over PTPS to the power giant, NTPC, at a nominal value of Re 1 as is being reported in a section of the media."

In Jharkhand, the joint venture proposal now has to be passed by the state cabinet. Once finalised, NTPC will also need to get it approved by its board of directors.

Once the NTPC board clears it, the proposal would have to be approved by the Union energy ministry before the new joint venture company can finally take off, the state chief secretary explained.

As per the broad agreements reached, NTPC would ensure that 85 per cent of all power generated by the new company would be earmarked for the state. NTPC would sell power to the state government and to Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam at Rs 2.73 per unit.

All water drawn for power generation from the existing Patratu Dam would also be paid for by NTPC, Gauba added.

The land question is clear. Of the 6,300 acres of vacant land available at PTPS, the new plant would come up on 1,500 acres only. The ownership of the remaining 4,800 acres of unutilised land would remain with the state government.

"At present PTPS does not generate more than 110MW per day. We are forced to purchase power every day from the central pool, DVC and other sources to meet the total requirement of the state at an average rate of Rs 3.90 per unit," the chief secretary said, adding that there would be considerable savings to the state exchequer on this account alone.

Besides, the state would not have to pay salaries nor pay for coal, oil and other inputs. "The advantages to Jharkhand would thus be phenomenal," he added.

Partnering a state government to form a joint venture company to run an existing power plant is not knew to NTPC. It has sealed similar arrangements in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and other states.

If Gauba took pains to clarify that there would be no retrenchment of existing manpower at PTPS, NTPC chairman Arup Roy Choudhury also did his bit to allay all fears.

Roy Choudhury said all existing PTPS employees would be absorbed into the new company. "There will not be any retrenchment of the existing workforce. No fresh recruitments are being planned for the proposed joint venture either," he said.

Among the others present at today's high-powered meeting were state energy secretary S.K.G. Rahate and finance commissioner Amit Khare.