Bhavnagar in Gujarat and Dighe, a coastal town in Maharashtra, will likely be the new sites for ultra mega power projects (UMPPs) that were originally supposed to come up in Tadri (Karnataka) and Girye (Maharashtra).
The relocation is due to the failure of the state governments to overcome resistance from environmental groups and political opponents and obtain environmental clearance for the projects.
“The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) is examining both these sites. These projects are coastal projects and the sites offered by the respective state governments are very good sites,” said a senior official at the Union power ministry, who did not wish to be identified.
Once the due diligence of the sites is concluded, the power ministry will issue a formal statement about their selection. The UMPPs use coal as a fuel and will likely import high-quality coal through ships, one reason why the projects have to be located on the coast.
Gujarat already has a coastal UMPP project at Mundra which has been awarded to Tata Power Co. Ltd. The official at the power ministry said that if a state already has one project, it does not mean that additional projects cannot be set up there if favourable sites are available.
“The state government’s support is very important for land acquisition,” he added.
Gujarat is ruled by a Bharatiya Janata Party government headed by Narendra Modi. The state goes to polls later this year. Decisions related to the location of UMPPs are made by ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government that will be trying to end the BJP’s hold over Gujarat in the coming elections.
Each ultra mega power project has a capacity of 4,000MW and is a critical element of the government’s strategy to deliver ‘power-to-all’ by 2012.
Mint had earlier reported on 27 February that Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat had offered alternative sites for ultra mega power projects that were originally supposed to be located in Girye and Tadri.
Girye in coastal Maharashtra is famous for its mango orchards that grow the famed Alphonsos, and Tadri falls in Karnataka’s green belt. Farmers and environmentalists had objected to power plants coming up in these places.
While the Girye project may be relocated to Dighe in Maharshtra, Karnataka does not have an alternative site to offer. “In Karnataka, no suitable site is available. Both these sites (Bhavnagar and Dighe) are very good sites and we are gathering information (on them),” said a senior executive at CEA who did not wish to be identified.