The spat between the Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) and the Orissa government on the issue of coal blocks allocated to the state owned Orissa Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) has intensified further with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention on the issue.
The MoEF in a recent move had proposed to change the category of the Meenakshi group of coal blocks allocated to the Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) proposed at Sundergarh from 'no go' to 'go' under the condition that the Ministry of Power (MoP) would give up opening up of Manoharpur and Dulinga coal blocks allocated to OPGC and National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) respectively.
The move had left the state government officials, especially the OPGC authorities, sulking with the state energy secretary P K Jena and the state energy minister Atanu Sabsyasachi Nayak writing letters to the P Uma Shankar and Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in this regard.
Patnaik has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister, stating that it would not be fair on the part of MoP to accept such a move at the cost of two other projects, particularly which is the only state owned project.
He has requested the Prime Minister to intervene in the matter and take a favourable stand in the upcoming meeting of the Group of Ministers to clear OPGC's Manoharpur and dip side of Manoharpur coal blocks into the 'go' category.
"Given that the coal blocks allocated to OPGC fall within a cluster of blocks owned by Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), Independent Power Plants (IPPs), UMPP and NTPC, any decision taken in favour of the UMPP block alone would be unfair, particularly considering the significant progress and investment made by OPGC vis-a-vis other two projects in consideration (UMPP and NTPC)”, Patnaik has stated in his letter.
Earlier, the state energy minister in his letter to the Union power minister dated February 26 had stated that Orissa is relying on OPGC's project for meeting its future power security since the project is well placed to move into construction during the current financial year and any adverse decision in the case of coal blocks allocated to OPGC will be a serious blow to the state's future power supply scenario.
Pointing out that there are only three projects being pursued in the same footing- UMPP, OPGC and NTPC, Nayak had stated that in case any favourable decision is taken for the UMPP project only, it will be difficult on the part of the state to facilitate and support the UMPP project at the cost of the other two projects, particularly OPGC.
OPGC is pursuing capacity addition of two 660 MW units in Jharsuguda district. It has been allocated Manoharpur and dip side of Manoharpur coal blocks by the Ministry of Coal for captive use. The Meenakshi group of coal blocks allocated for the UMPP project and Dulinga coal block alloted to NTPC lie adjacent to and on either side of Manoharpur and dip side blocks in a continuous stretch.