Land acquisition, environmental clearances hitting Neyveli expansion - Co has set a target to achieve 11,204-Mw power production
For navratna lignite mining-cum-power producer Neyveli Lignite, land acquisition and environmental clearances are posing serious challenges in realising the planned four-fold expansion of power generation besides operationalising some of the lignite and coal mining assets by the end of 13th Five Year Plan. The public sector undertaking is battling hard for the last one year to operationalise the ready-to-function 1,000-Mw Tuticorin thermal power plant. Neyveli had to negotiate with the Tuticorin Port Trust for concluding the land acquisition, and is now awaiting the National Wildlife Board's final nod for beginning the Phase-I (500-Mw) operations of the shore-based power unit.
While the Tamil Nadu government offered the wildlife clearance recently, the company expects the central body would follow suit making the plant kickstart operations anytime before January 2015. After this, it plans to streamline the 500-Mw second phase in less than two months. Tamil Nadu has a 50 per cent share in the output, while the rest would be available to the other power-deficit states in the South. According to the company’s website, the first unit was expected to be commissioned in February 2014 and the second unit in May 2014. “We are expecting the final nod from the National Wildlife Board in the next two months for the Tuticorin power plant,” said Surender Mohan, chairman and managing director of Neyveli Lignite Corporation.
NLC has set the project in a joint venture with Tangedco. NLC holds 89 per cent equity in the JV — NLC Tamil Nadu Power Limited (NTPL) — and the state distribution company 11 per cent. NTPL has signed a fuel supply agreement with Mahanadhi Coalfields Ltd for supply of 3 million tonnes of coal. In the north, the company’s Pachwara South coal block in Jharkhand is in a rough weather due to tough forest laws and more than 50 per cent of the mining land is in critical forest zone. The block would supply raw material to its yet-to-be commissioned 1,980-Mw (3X660-Mw) Uttar Pradesh thermal power plant at Ghatampur. The company is, however, knocking on the Centre’s door for delinking the obligatory mining clearance before it could begin operations of the power plant.
“We have been urging the Centre to allow us feed the UP plant with imported coal till the time the Jharkhand mine is fully developed,” said Mohan. “Today, for establishing a power plant, one has to get close to 65 clearances,” he added. NLC and Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Utpadhan Nigam Limited (UPRVUNL) have formed a joint venture company, Neyveli Uttar Pradesh Power Limited (NUPPL), to execute the plant works. In the JV, NLC holds 51 per cent equity and UPRVUNL 49 per cent. NLC would be spending Rs 14,000 crore on the power project.
The company on Thursday, after a six-year delay, operationalised the complicated eco-friendly circulating fluidised bed combustion (CFBC) technology-run lignite-fired TPS-II power unit in Tamil Nadu. Of the planned Phase-I 250-Mw, it was able to recognise only 100-Mw. The project involves setting up of two units of 250-Mw each. The project contractor, BHEL, delayed the commissioning as it had to come up with an improvised fluidised bed heat exchange (FBH) tubes in the unit, he said. Neyveli is also concerned about meeting the project timelines and cost overruns associated with delayed commissioning. “I’m responsible to the audit teams on what went wrong and the reasons for the delay,” he said. NLC has set a target to achieve 11,204-Mw power production by the end of 13th Five Year Plan.
Another key issue it had to face during the process of land acquisition was providing livelihoods for the project-displaced. While it is ready to offer contractual jobs, the locals have been demanding permanent jobs. “We are currently engaging more than 60 per cent of the locals for contractual jobs. However, we can’t afford more,” said Mohan. To make resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) more inclusive, it is devising a more acceptable R&R policy and has tied up with Hyderabad-based Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE) to come up with new strategies in aiding corporate social responsibility activities. As part of this, it has constituted a Rs 2-crore CSR chair at the IPE.