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Jharkhand wants Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project under ‘plug and play’ model

The Jharkhand government has urged the Union government to consider fresh bidding for the Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project or offering it on a ‘plug and play’ model after Anil Ambani’s Reliance Power walked away from it one month ago.

This will help avoid any further delay in implementing the 3,960 MW project, the state said in a letter to the Union power ministry, senior government officials told ET.

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Under the ‘plug and play’ model for big ticket infrastructure projects, proposed in this year’s Union budget, all regulatory clearances will be put in place before a project is awarded to a private developer through a transparent auction. The Modi Government has announced plans to auction five new UMPPs of 4000 MW each in the “plug-and-play” model.

Reliance Power’s subsidiary Jharkhand Integrated Power Ltd, which bagged the Tilaiya UMPP in 2009, pulled out of the Rs 36,000-crore project on April 28 on the ground that the state had failed to make adequate land available.

Out of 1,700 acres of land required for the project, the state had acquired only 417 acres even though the ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) had given its nod for 1,220 acres of forest land in November 2010 it had said.

Reliance Power on May 8 also moved the Delhi High Court, which granted a stay against any move to encash the Rs 800-crore bank guarantee the company provided for the project.

Reliance’s pullout came at a time when Jharkhand’s first stable government in its 14-year history is working overtime to prove itself.

While it pursues “all necessary legal recourse”, including challenging the High Court stay and issuing a notice for arbitration, the Jharkhand government is keen to reboot the project as quickly as possible.

When it won the UMPP in 2009, Reliance Power had committed to provide power at Rs 1.77 a unit for over 25 years under the UMPP that would have provided power to 18 power utilities of ten states, including Jharkhand.

In the letter to the Union power ministry, dated May 21, Jharkhand’s principal secretary, energy, SKG Rahate said the company’s termination of contract “seemed to have been served in haste”.

Just a week earlier, at a meeting of the joint monitoring committee the state government had fixed specific timelines and informed the company that the proposal for diversion of 4,306 acres of forest land in the coal block area had been sent to the MoEF’s on March 24, and the state was committing to a July 31, 2015 deadline for land acquisition for the main plant area.

The Kerandari coal block, in the North Karanpura had been allocated to the Tilaiya project and been exempt from the SC sweeping cancellations of coal block allocations.

Earlier, Jharkhand chief secretary Rajiv Gauba had pointed out that the company had approached the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for a revision of tariff back in September 2013, suggesting that delay in land acquisition may not have been the only consideration.

Against its peak requirement of 2,200 MW, Jharkhand produces only 650MW of power on its own despite having 8 billion tonnes of coal reserves.

The new state government has signed a joint venture with National Thermal Power Corporation for a 6,400 megawatt power plant on grounds of the Patratu Thermal Power Station. Work is also underway on site of NTPC’s 1980 MW super thermal power plant near Tandwa and Central Coalfield Limited’s Magadh coal mine, proposed as Asia’s largest, right next door.


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