NTPC has not taken possession of land acquired by Bengal Govt

Pratim Ranjan Bose Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 12, 2012

Company says it must first tie-up private land acquisition

Land issues are still dogging NTPC’s proposed 1,600 MW super-thermal power project at Katwa in West Bengal. For the last couple of months, the West Bengal Government has been sending repeated reminders to NTPC, asking the power major to take possession of 575 acres acquired by the Government for Rs 100 crore — but without much success.

The reason is simple. As part of its much publicised ‘no land acquisition for industry’ strategy, the Mamata Banerjee government has asked the company to acquire another 500-plus acres, required to set up a power plant of such size, directly from the farmers. To help the company, the State Government has even earmarked the land to be acquired directly.

But that’s no solace for the public sector major, which had a track record in setting up projects on land handed over by different State governments.

‘Has to be doable’

Though NTPC apparently agreed to the proposal and has recruited a few retired State government employees from the “land and land reforms” department to speed up the acquisition, sources in the government are not confident about the result. The concern is particularly high as West Bengal has fragmented parcels of land.

“Despite repeated reminders, NTPC is not taking possession of the acquired 575 acres or giving necessary clarifications under Section 14Y of the Land Reforms Act (for relaxation of land ceiling). Apparently, they are looking forward to completing the direct acquisition first before taking possession of the government land,” a source said,

An NTPC official admits the concern. “Projects cannot be done only with government land. We have to be sure that (acquiring) the private land is doable, without which the project is a non-starter,” he said.

More trouble ahead

Sources suggest even acquiring the demarcated private land directly from farmers may not ensure commissioning of the power plant. The project will require another 15-20 acres to set up railway sidings. And more land will be needed to lay a water pipeline from the Hooghly river.

To add to NTPC’s concerns, this land is not even demarcated by the State Government. “They have to locate the land and negotiate with farmers on their own. The State will not interfere,” a government source clarifies.

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Published on July 12, 2012
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