In a major achievement for power generator NTPC, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has given clearance for a reworked plan of the company’s Rs 15,000- crore North Karanpura Super Thermal Power Project to come up in Jharkhand.
The 1,980-megawatt project has been at the centre of a controversy and inter-ministerial tussle surrounding its location. The approval would help the company fast-track the commissioning of the mega project within the scheduled timeframe, mid-13th Plan, and ramp up generation capacity.
The original environmental clearance (EC) was given in November 2004. However, progress was hit after the coal ministry claimed the project would sterilise over six billion tonnes of reserves beneath the site. The issue was resolved after a ministerial panel decided in 2012 the plant be shifted to a new location, with reduced capacity and land requirement.
“Since you have commended the construction of the project within the validity period of five years from the date of issue of EC, the said EC continues to be valid,” MoEF said in a February 19 letter to the company re-validating the clearance. The project area has been cut from 2,570 acres to 890 acres.
The environmental clearance, however, has come with 36 added conditions. This includes cap on Sulphur and ash content of coal to be used, monitoring of emissions, waste water and fly ash generated and implementation of corporate social responsibility schemes.
The project was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) in April last year as part of 33 key infrastructure projects stuck for want of clearances. An NTPC official said ordering of equipment for the project was at an advanced stage. Three equipment manufacturers were understood to be in the race for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) package for the plant – Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), L&T and Korean Doosan.
NTPC has a current power generation capacity of 42,464 Mw and plans to add additional 14,000 Mw by the end of the current Plan period in March 2017. Large projects currently being implemented include Pudimadaka in Andhra Pradesh, Katwa in West Bengal, Lara in Chhattisgarh and Darlipalli in Orissa.