NTPC looks to revive Sipat project

NTPC looks to revive Sipat project

State-run NTPC Ltd is going ahead with plans to make further payments to Russia’s Power Machines Co. to revive the 1,980MW Sipat project in Chhattisgarh.

The board of the utility, opposed to making any such payments to Technoprom Exports (TPE) for the Barh project, has approved the fund transfer to Power Machines, which will begin shortly as the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has been informed of the plan. CVC oversees the financial decisions taken by India’s state-owned firms.

“The CVC has taken note of the proposed payments," said a top NTPC executive, who did not want to be identified. “We plan to operationalize the three units of Sipat by 2010-11, thereby making it the first supercritical power project in the country."

The original order, for Rs1,150 crore for supply of turbines, was placed with a consortium headed by Power Machines on 6 February 2004.

Power Machines is seeking more time to deliver the equipment and an upward revision in price to the tune of around Rs1,100 crore, citing rising input costs. However, NTPC is expected to make an additional payment of only around Rs400 crore.

The Sipat project is 90% complete, with NTPC having already invested around Rs8,000 crore in it. The delay in the Sipat project was on account of Power Machines not releasing payments on time to its sub-vendors.

Questions emailed to Power Machines on Monday remained unanswered at the time of filing the story.

Mint had earlier reported on NTPC approaching CVC on 30 September.

In the TPE case, the government decided to hold off from cancelling the controversial contract before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip to Russia, but the Union power ministry and NTPC are insistent that the contract be revoked. The Barh project is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which says bribes were paid by the Russian company and its agents to secure the boiler contract.