Eco nod, right of way issues prove hitches for 4,000-MW ultra mega project

Tata Power's Mundra project, the only Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) that is running on track out of the four awarded so far, could be staring at possible delays due to problems in the associated transmission link.

Forest clearances and right-of-way issues are holding up the transmission line being set up for evacuating power from the project, which could result in bottling up of electricity from the initial units of the 4,000-MW power plant coming up in Gujarat.

Despite construction progressing according to schedule, commissioning of the first 800-MW unit of the project could slip beyond its targeted commissioning in September this year, Government officials involved in the process said.

State-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), which is developing the transmission link for the project, is now trying to make some interim arrangement to be able to evacuate around 500 MW from the first unit.

But the project still faces transmission constraints and subsequent units could face delays on account of inadequate transmission capacity, unless the planned system for the project is completed on time.

The sticky issues holding up the line involve a wildlife and forest clearance in one of the patches, which threaten to hold up the link even if the right of way issues are resolved by PGCIL. The transmission major had earlier raised the issue of “severe” right of way problems at different locations in Mandvi, Mundra, Bhuj, Anjar, Bachua and Rapar talukas in the Kutch district and sought assistance from the Gujarat Government.

Officials said that unless the forest clearance and the right of way issues are sorted out, the mandatory clearances (Stage 1 and Stage 2 clearances) cannot come through.

Till the Stage 2 clearance comes, the construction of the line on that section cannot happen.

Late last month, Tata Power had said that it was “on track” to synchronise the first unit of the project by September 2011. The company has completed critical steam blowing process at unit-I of the UMPP, bringing it closer towards its synchronisation. The project will have five supercritical units of 800 MW each and would run on imported coal.

Apart from work on the first unit, equipment and piping erection is progressing sequentially for the remaining four units.

While the Mundra project was the second UMPP to be awarded, the Tatas brought forward the commissioning of the project from the original schedule of August 2012 to September 2011, making it the first UMPP off the block.

Other projects

Meanwhile, the first unit of the Sasan UMPP, being developed by Reliance Power Ltd, where the commissioning schedule was brought forward to December 2011, is now slated to achieve commercial operations only in January 2013, according to a Government status report dated April.

The Krishnapatnam UMPP, being developed by Reliance Power in Andhra Pradesh and where the scheduled commercial operation has been pegged for June 2013, could also face delays due to changes in unit size and work on the boiler foundation, Government officials said.

The fourth UMPP, Tilaiya in Jharkhand being developed again by Reliance Power, is scheduled to commission its first unit in May 2015.

(This article was published on June 26, 2011)
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