New Delhi: A day ahead of Odisha Investors Meet, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday raised the issue of delay in approvals for state-run NTPC Ltd’s 9,785 crore Talcher expansion project with state’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

This comes in the backdrop of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government trying to drum up investments for the state in the countdown to the state assembly elections next year. Enthused by its success in panchayat polls last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also sharpened its focus on Odisha, a state that is among a handful not ruled by it.

Pradhan, who is being seen as the BJP’s face in Odisha has sought Naveen Patnaik’s personal intervention over delay in approval for setting up of NTPC’s 1,320-megawatts (MW) Talcher expansion project at an investment of 9,785 crore and “send the right signals about ease of doing business in the state."

Ahead of the ‘Make in Odisha’ conclave in November, chief minister Naveen Patnaik will hold investors meet on 12 September in Delhi. In association with industry lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Odisha government will apprise investors and business houses about opportunity in the state. Patnaik has already held investors meet in Kolkata, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

“The NTPC board on 10th Septemeber, 2018 has approved 9,785 crores investment for the project. The project has obtained land, water, environmental and other statutory clearances. But, being a large project it requires project clearance by High Levl Committee (HLC) of the state government. Unfortunately, NTPC is still awaiting approval of the HLC despite applying online for single window clearance on 19.04.2017," Pradhan said in the letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

“Lack of requisite clearance for such big-ticket investments even after a lapse of more than 15 months will dampen the investment climate in Odisha and send a wrong signal to the investor community," the letter added. In the panchayat polls, the BJP won 297 zilla parishad seats, up from 36 in 2012 and was a close second to the BJD.

“The proposed power project by NTPC is expected to make power available to the people of Odisha at a cheaper rate because of easy availability of coal and use of latest technology," the letter added.

With an average power demand of 4,000-MW, Odisha’s rural electricity consumption is expected to grow in the backdrop of electricity reaching its villages and setting the stage for universal household electrification.

A NTPC spokesperson declined to comment.

NTPC Ltd is India’s largest power generation utility, accounting for 16% of the country’s installed power generation capacity. With a 53,651-MW portfolio from 187 generation units spread across the country, helping meet the base load for India’s power demand.

“In line with Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Purvodaya, Central Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) have come forward to make huge investments in various projects in Odisha. Be it oil sector PSUs or SAIL or NALCO or NTPC, all of the have lined up high value projects that will change the industrial landscape of Odisha," Pradhan’s letter added.

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