Following its move to shift its flagship Gadarwara project from Odisha to Madhya Pradesh, power generator NTPC has crossed a major hurdle by securing the environment ministry’s approval for the Rs 11,640-crore power plant. Once commissioned, the project would add 1,600 Mw to the company’s portfolio.
As the ministry’s environment clearance was on the condition that the project be set up as a role model, NTPC has quickly moved to source equipment and fuel for the project. “The order for the main plant equipment for the Gadarwara project has already been placed with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. The environment ministry’s approval for the project comes as a major positive for us,” NTPC Chairman Arup Roy Choudhury told Business Standard. The fuel would be sourced from the new mines the coal ministry might allocate to NTPC soon.
An NTPC executive said the project was likely to be commissioned in four years. Currently, NTPC operates two thermal power plants in Odisha, including the 3,000-Mw Talcher Kaniha plant and the 460-Mw Talcher plant.
Initially, the Gadarwara project was scheduled to be set up in Gajmara district in Odisha. However, after NTPC faced several hurdles related to land acquisition and environment and forest clearances for the site, it decided to shift the project to Madhya Pradesh. The project requires 1,350 acres. Of this, 318 acres are barren government land, and this has already been transferred to NTPC. The plant would need eight million tonnes of coal a year, at 90 per cent plant load factor.
The environment ministry’s approval comes with 13 specific conditions and 39 general conditions. Through the Gadarwara project, the environment ministry wants NTPC to demonstrate the fact that ecology and development can co-exist. It also wants NTPC to “set examples for others to emulate similar practices”. The ministry has also placed specific caps on the sulphur and ash content of the coal to be used in the plant, apart from mandating strict checks on effluents and gaseous emissions. Continuous monitoring of the water quality of the Narmada, from which water for the project would be sourced, is another condition.
Currently, NTPC’s power generation capacity is about 41,000 Mw. The company plans to add 14,000 Mw of capacity by the end of the 12th Plan period. It plans to spend about Rs 1.5 lakh crore on capacity addition and development of captive coal mines.