New Delhi: The empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on so-called ultra-mega power projects (UMPPs) on Monday decided to refer to attorney general Goolam E. Vahanvati the issue of allowing Reliance Power Ltd to divert surplus coal from captive coal mines associated with one of its projects to other plants owned by it.
“We have discussed the issue and the matter will be taken to the attorney general for legal opinion,” said power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.
This follows the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) questioning a ministerial group’s decision to allow such diversion by the Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Group firm.
After the attorney general submits his opinion, the eGoM will meet again to decide on the issue. The Monday meeting was presided over by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and was attended by law minister Salman Khursheed, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Shinde and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
A spokesperson for Reliance Power declined to comment.
Mint reported on 28 September that CAG was looking into an earlier eGoM decision to allow Reliance Power to use coal meant for the Sasan project in Chitrangi, both located in Madhya Pradesh. Reliance Power is committed to selling power generated at Sasan at Rs 1.19 a unit while it plans to charge Rs 2.45 a unit for power produced by its proposed 4,000MW plant at Chitrangi.
Original UMPP norms required that coal meant for use by the project could not be used for other projects owned by the developer. The move to change this norm in the case of Reliance Power’s Sasan project was taken in August 2008 by the eGoM and the panel later deided to make this applicable to all UMPPs, which are projects capable of generating 4,000MW each.
Reliance Power has sued HT Media Ltd, publisher of Mint, in the Bombay high court over a 12 May 2010 front-page story in Mint that it disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.