Gidderbaha thermal power project proves to be a non-starter

Submitted by VK Gupta on Sun, 21/08/2011 - 6:21am

Gidderbaha thermal power project proves to be a non-starter
SP Sharma/TNS

Bathinda, August 20
The 2,640 MW coal-based thermal power plant in politically sensitive Gidderbaha in Muktsar district assigned for construction to the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) seems to be slipping out of its hands because of “unreasonable” delay in starting the work.

Though nearly one year has passed after assigning the Rs 15,000 crore project to the NTPC, but it has so far failed to obtain statutory clearances from the power ministry, pollution control board and also coal linkage.

The notice under Section 6 has already been issued for acquiring 2,316 acres of agriculture and waterlogged land for the project, but the state government is also going slow on further proceedings in the matter as it has already burnt its fingers in a similar land acquisition at Gobindpura that has led to lot of hue and cry by farmers resulting in politicisation of the issue by the opposition Congress.

The Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) had signed the requisite MoU with the NTPC in October last year for setting up the thermal project in Gidderbaha that has emerged as a hot battlefield between Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and PPP leader Manpreet Badal following the latter’s expulsion from the ruling SAD. The biggest thermal power plant was proposed to be set up in the area because of its political importance and also because it was the home turf of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Sukhbir hinted that the state government might scrap the agreement with the NTPC if it did not begin the work soon. The project might be assigned to some other organisation, he said. The farmers whose land is to be acquired for the project are also growing restive as the market price of land has increased in the area. The government had fixed the rate of about Rs 25 lakhs for each acre.

The farmers who would lose their fertile land in three villages, Theri, Babania and Ghagga, are sitting on chain hunger strike on the roadside demanding that higher compensation be fixed for fertile land.

PSPCL engineers too are up in arms against the proposal to dismantle the 440 MW thermal power plant in the heart of Bathinda that has become a source of respiratory and other diseases among the residents of the town due to the high-level of pollution being caused by it.

Sukhbir had recently mooted the idea of dismantling the thermal plant and assigning construction of another power plant elsewhere by the PSPCL.

Residents of the town have been demanding that the government should either shut the plant or modernise it to check the air pollution that it was causing.

Meanwhile, Indiabulls that has been assigned the work for the 1,350 MW thermal power plant at Gobindpura in Mansa district has reportedly sought one more year’s time from the PSPCL for preparing the detailed project report (DPR). The company was supposed to submit the DPR by February 20 last and has now sought extension of time till March 2012 on the plea that the land has not yet been transferred to the company.

About the power project

l Generation capacity: 2,640 MW

l Estimated cost of the plant: Rs 15,000 crore

l Executing agency: National Thermal Power Corporation

l Almost a year has passed after the signing of the MoU, but NTPC is yet to obtain clearances from the power ministry, pollution control board