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VOL. XXII NO. 2, MAY 1-15, 2012
When will we get all this power?
By a Special Correspondent

While Tamil Nadu has been steeped in a power crisis for long, the existing projects in the State have compounded the issue. Adding fuel to the crisis, many of the upcoming projects that would ease the shortage of power are, ironically, yet to take shape.

The State is nearly 4,500 MW short of its requirements as of now. From the wordy duel between the two dominant parties in Tamil Nadu, it can be understood that when the State was 'power surplus', there was no industrial development – and during hectic industrial activity in the subsequent period, no fruitful steps were initiated towards generating more power.

We all know about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project and the obstacles it has faced. The plant that was ready for commissioning was put on hold for over nine months. Well, there are other projects that too face problems of delay. One of them is the Udangudi Supercritical Thermal Power Project in Tuticorin District. The Rs. 8,000-crore, 2x800 MW project, which should have been commissioned by 2011, is yet to take off.

Now, the new government, having reviewed the project, has taken the initiative to implement it. The completion of the proposed power plant is expected by 2016-17, with its first unit expected to be commissioned by March 2013. The proposed date of commencement of the project activities at site was last month (April 2012).

Originally, the erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) and BHEL had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in October 2007 to implement the project through a joint venture, the Udangudi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL). The State Government has now decided to go it all alone. It will fund the project fully.

In the initial stage, it was planned that both joint venture partners would invest 26 per cent each in the equity, and a financial institution or a private partner would bring in the balance stake. But the project did not make any headway except for the partners, TNEB and BHEL, allocating Rs. 32.5 crore each as project funding.

There were no efforts taken to get long-term coal linkage, which is essential to get environmental clearance from the Centre. With the Union Coal Ministry not having passed orders on coal linkage, the Government decided to use imported coal for the project and seek the Environment Ministry's clearance. However, reports now suggest that Government plans to meet 70 per cent of the coal requirements from domestic sources.

Once the project commences, Tamil Nadu will get the entire 1600 MW of power generated. In this regard, UPCL signed a Power Purchase Agreement with the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd (TANGEDCO) in January 2011. The project would also benefit from tax incentives under a 'Mega Power Status'.

The current status of the project is that the Tamil Nadu Government has alienated over 305 ha of Government land for the project and has given administrative sanction for the acquisition of an additional 116 ha of private lands. The State Government has also declared Udangudi a minor port for the captive use of the Udangudi Power Corporation Ltd.

The project is to be developed with super-critical technology to obtain benefits under the Clean Development Mechanism (a CDM Project), and it will have its own captive coal jetty at Udangudi with transportation of coal through a pipe conveyor system to the power plant – a rare phenomenon amongst thermal power projects in India.

But this supply may not be sufficient to meet the growing demand-supply gap. The Tamil Nadu Government has announced power generation projects to the tune of 3800 MW in the 2011-12 Budget. These include 1000 MW LNG-fired power generation, the proposed 660 MW Ennore Thermal Power replacement project, the 1000 MW Vallur Thermal Power Project, jointly executed with the Nuclear Thermal Power Corporation, the 600 MW North Chennai Thermal Power Station Stage-2 project, and the 600 MW Mettur Thermal Power Station Stage-3. These projects are expected to be commissioned between 2012 and 2015.

It remains to be seen whether this goal will be achieved, given the fact that these projects may not be ready exactly by the dates committed and, even if that happens, the demand may not remain at the current level in a growth-oriented State. But, as of now, Tamil Nadu will turn out to be self-sufficient once these projects become a reality. (Courtesy: Our Building and Construction)

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In this issue

Government offers hope again for Heritage Act
The least pedestrian-friendly Indian city: Chennai
When will we get all this power?
An exchange of letters
Perambur Railway Hospital - A remarkable journey to excellence
An Old Boy's advice
METERPODU – A work in progress
The economist as a Shakespearean scholar
A Chola temple near Tambaram

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your diary


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