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Centre relaxes clearance norms to speed up power projects

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REMOVING bottlenecks
REMOVING bottlenecks

Anil Sasi

New Delhi, March 8

In a bid to expedite the execution of power sector projects, especially hydro-electric projects, the Centre has taken a slew of measures including dispensing with the requirement of obtaining approvals from the Planning Commission and the mandatory pre-PIB (Public Investment Board) examination.

Also, the limit for incurring capital expenditure on new projects without Government approval has been enhanced for Central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) and the time limits stipulated for the investment appraisal and the approval process have been slashed.

"A series of measures has been taken to ensure that power projects do not get delayed as in the earlier Plan periods. We are keeping a close vigil on the targets and weekly video conferences with all CPSUs are being conducted to ensure that slippages are eliminated," a senior Power Ministry official said.

Besides the policy measures taken for compressing the clearance process, the Government is also working on eliminating bottlenecks in the provision of fuel, transport linkages and assure supplies of essential inputs for thermal power stations, officials said.

Constraints

According to the Ministry of Statistics, a number of projects in the power sector are reported to be facing constraints in timely commissioning, which includes those under different stages of implementation but reporting certain amount of time lag for which remedial measures have been suggested.

The projects facing constraints include those in hydro generation, which are facing roadblocks due to slow pace of civil works and poor performance of contractors. Some of the transmission projects have also been delayed as they are linked to generation projects that have got stuck.

Delayed projects

The projects facing delays include the Madurai-Thiruvananthapuram 400 kV DC line of the State-owned Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL), which has encountered a time lag of 19 months and cost overrun of nearly 27 per cent, mainly due to land acquisition delays.

The Loktak hydel project of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) in Manipur, approved in December 1999, is currently under review because of various constraints, high costs, and security reasons.

Tehri Dam

The Tehri Dam and Hydel Project of Tehri Hydro Development Corporation Ltd has already reported a cost overrun of over 125 per cent and a time delay of more than 76 months.

The associated Tehri Transmission System of PGCIL has also reported a cost overrun of nearly 92 per cent and time delay of 78 months with respect to the original estimates.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 9, 2006)
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