NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN) has come down heavily upon 14 project developers for failing to meet the commissioning deadline under the first batch of phase I of the national solar mission.

An NVVN official said that in terms of strict compliance of the guidelines, bank guarantees of these developers have been encashed for not commissioning the projects by January 9, which was the deadline.

Of these 14 projects, Lanco is engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor in three.

Mr Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary in-charge of National Solar Mission in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, confirmed this. Official sources said the amount encashed would be close to Rs 28 crore.

The penalty for each project averages approximately Rs 2 crore.

This is the first warning. After this, the developers are given two months' time to finish the project, and if they still don't, this would entail further loss of bank guarantee — thereafter, three months time is provided with penalties to complete the project, failing which the project would stand removed from the Mission. The total extension in this manner is up to six months beyond the scheduled date.

These projects are spread across the country — Rajasthan, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Sources said that NVVN has relied on the commissioning reports furnished by the State nodal agencies.

The trading arm of NTPC has been designated the nodal agency for sale and purchase of grid connected solar power under Phase-1 of the Mission.

Under the first batch, 35 new projects were expected to generate 610 MW of solar power (140 MW of photovoltaic and 470 MW thermal) and grid connectivity was expected by January 2012.

Generation from new photovoltaic projects was to commence from this January, and from thermal sources by May 2013. Recently, the Government has ordered a probe into the contravention of one project-one proponent norm in the Mission brought out by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) investigation.

The three-member committee has to submit its report in a month's time.

Sources said that the first meeting of the committee took place on January 17, when CSE made a presentation. Besides, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which is represented in the committee, has simultaneously started gathering information on the status of companies accused of flouting the norms.

An investigation by CSE revealed that the guidelines were circumvented by Lanco Infratech, the flagship of the Lanco Group.

According to the investigation, Lanco Infratech floated front companies and grabbed nine projects worth 235 MW sanctioned during the first batch of the first phase of the Solar Mission.

richam@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 19, 2012)
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