Country’s biggest private sector electricity producer Tata Power has accused entities with vested interests, along with some foreign NGOs, of spreading “falsehood” about environmental issues at its flagship 4,000 MW Mundra project in Gujarat.
“...there are some foreign agencies, some such type of NGOs, who in connivance with some elements have started to arm-twist us,” Tata Power Managing Director Anil Sardana told PTI in an interview here.
Sardana said the Mundra Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP) has not violated any environmental norms and the company would not buckle under any criticism.
“It (criticism) has created a falsehood. That’s all,” he said in reply to queries on concerns raised over environmental issues related to the Mundra plant.
Tata Power’s Mundra plant is the country’s first UMPP and is being set up with an estimated investment of about Rs 20,000 crore.
“Reaction to appease these things (spreading falsehood) is not in our dictionary... Obviously, we will not do anything in that direction... (We will) do the right thing, that’s it,” he said.
Emphasising that it does not have any issues in getting things audited at Mundra UMPP, Sardana said everything that needs to be done in this regard has been done.
The Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), an independent arm of the World Bank group, is assessing whether the investment in Mundra project is in compliance with various environmental and social norms.
World Bank Group’s private lending agency, International Finance Corp (IFC), has invested $450 million in Mundra UMPP.
“It is very clearly a testimony of the fact that there are some elements which for their own vested interests are raking up an issue. It is the right of IFC to say that it is one of the lenders and would want to check it,” Sardana said.
“We need to also understand that in this country, power project is not being set up for the first time. We need to also understand that we have been operating Trombay plant for the last 50 years,” he added.
Mundra plant, fired by imported coal, is grappling with high fuel prices which are hurting its financial viability.
Three 800 MW units are generating electricity, while the fourth unit was recently synchronised — the final step before commissioning.
Tata Power, the country’s largest private power producer with an installed capacity of 7,699 MW, has sought higher tariff for the plant and the issue is pending before the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).
Sardana said there have been several independent checks on Mundra project and all of them were found to be satisfactory.
“I welcome any check and also criticism. I also welcome criticism and there is nothing wrong with criticism, except for the fact that if there is nothing that is found in the aftermath of the checking.
“Similar issue we could be talking about the 2G spectrum... We always said that it is welcome for people to go and check. Once it is checked, only request we make is that they should pronounce the judgement. It was done,” Sardana said.
On whether Ratan Tata was bothered about the financial viability and other issues faced by Mundra UMPP, Sardana said the former Chairman was very proud of the work done there.
“He visited the project last year and appreciated the project... However, he is and he was worried about the fact that a solution needed to be evolved rather quickly,” he said.
According to Sardana, Tata was not concerned about “falsehood” surrounding Mundra project.
“He (Tata) in his tenure has seen so many such protests... Once he has seen, reviewed and satisfied for himself that our team is doing a genuine work, then he leaves it to the team to deal with the situation,” he said.
The Tata Power Chief said what worried Ratan Tata about the project were the issues of financial viability being faced by “such a nice national facility which will impact Tata Power very significantly“.
Present Chairman Cyrus Mistry went along with Tata during his visit to Mundra, Sardana said and added that the new Chief also shares the concerns of the group’s former Chief.