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Jaya seeks PM's intervention in North Chennai Thermal Project clearance issue

The project was originally planned by Videocon Power limited, and had obtained environmental clearance for it

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J today wrote a letter to the urging him to direct the Ministry of Environment and Clarence to give clearance for the 2x600 Megawatt North Chennai Thermal Power Project Stage-II at an estimated cost of Rs 5,813 crore. It may be noted the project, which is in the final stage of commencement, was originally planned by . They had already obtained Environmental Clearance for the project.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister today mentioned that Tamil Nadu has been facing a severe power deficit of around 4,000 MW in the state and the Government has been taking efforts to augment capacity addition to meet the deficit by early commissioning of on-going power generation projects.

One such on-going project which is in an advanced stage of commissioning is the 2x600 Megawatt North Chennai Thermal Power Project Stage-II at an estimated cost of Rs 5,813 crore. The two units of this project have been programmed to be synchronised in December, 2012, and February, 2013 and are likely to be put in continuous operation in April – May, 2013.

“I am constrained to bring to your notice that, after delaying the issue of environmental clearance for the above project for the past six years, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has now advised the State Government to ask Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited, a fully owned power utility of the Government of Tamil Nadu to apply afresh for environmental clearance for the above project in accordance with the provisions under the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006”.

In the letter the Chief Minister said, originally, this project was proposed by Videocon Power Limited which had obtained Environmental Clearance for the establishment of 2x525 Megawatt North Chennai Thermal Power Project Stage-II with validity up to May 2006. However, due to various circumstances, the project could not be developed by the company.

The Government of Tamil Nadu decided to take up this project under the State Sector through the erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board presently known as Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) within the validity period. Accordingly, in October 2006, based on the site inspection report, the Ministry of Environment and Forests conveyed its decision to transfer the environmental clearance earlier granted to Videocon Power to the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.

Meanwhile, the proposed capacity of the project has been enhanced to 2x600 Megawatts based on the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Power. The Expert Appraisal Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests also recommended the proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forests in May 2011 for issue of Environmental Clearance for the enhanced capacity.

“If the Ministry of Environment and Forests was not satisfied then with the validity of the Environmental Clearance, the proposal would not have been referred to the Expert Appraisal Committee by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the recommendations of the Expert Appraisal Committee would not have been posted in the website of the Ministry of Environment and Forests”.

Now, after six years of follow up, the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests has asked TANGEDCO to apply afresh for Environmental Clearance for the North Chennai Thermal Power Project Stage-II.

The main contention of the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, is that as per the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006, the Environmental Clearance issued to Videocon Power Limited cannot be extended beyond ten years. He has further informed that the transfer of Environmental Clearance can be considered only when there is a written no objection certificate by the transferor and for the same validity period. He has also added that in this case there is no valid Environmental Clearance which could be considered for transfer.

Applying the stipulations of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2006, for the project governed by the earlier Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 1994, at this point of time when the project is ready for commissioning is not acceptable. The inordinate delay and the non-issuance of Environmental Clearance for the enhanced capacity by the Ministry of Environment and Forests has resulted in the cancellation of the Letter of Assurance given by Mahanadhi Coal Fields Limited for supply of coal for the above project in September 2012.

The Chief Minister asked the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter and urged him to direct the Ministry of Environment and Forests to issue the Environmental Clearance for the enhanced capacity immediately without insisting on a fresh application so that the project could be commissioned thereby helping to contain the severe power deficit faced by my State.

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