- In October 2011, Adani Power Dahej Ltd received environment clearance (EC) for setting up a 2,640 megawatt imported coal-based thermal power plant in Dahej, Gujarat but seven years down the line actual construction is yet to start. The company claims the project activities could not start as the power purchase agreement was not signed.
- Now, APDL, a subsidiary of India’s largest private power producer, is seeking extension of the EC by five years. The present green norms allow extension of only three years and that too only when substantial physical progress has already been achieved.
- The environment ministry’s expert committee has deferred a decision on the extension and a discussion on it is scheduled for the September 26 meeting of the panel as the EC’s validity ends in October 2018.
An expert panel of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has deferred recommending an extension of the environment clearance (EC) given to an upcoming 2,640 MW imported coal-based thermal power plant of Adani Power Dahej Ltd. (APDL) at Dahej in Gujarat as the project, which got clearance seven years ago, is yet to start construction.
APDL is a wholly owned company of the Adani Power Limited, India’s largest private power producer. Under the project it is developing a 2640 (4×660) megawatt imported coal-based supercritical thermal power plant at village Suva at notified Dahej industrial estate in Bharuch district of Gujarat.
As per the present environmental laws, a project can get a maximum of three years extension of the EC in case it has achieved substantial physical progress because the extension will enable completion of balance work. However, in this case the “actual construction” is yet to start and the company is already seeking a five-year extension of its EC, even before a power purchase agreement is in place.
The project, seeking extension of environment clearance, came up for discussion in the August 30 meeting of the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on thermal power projects of the MoEFCC.
During the discussions, as per the minutes of the meeting, the committee noted that the progress of the construction work in the last seven years is bare minimum. It also noted that the total time taken for completion of construction activities would be 48 months from the zero date.
According to the minutes of the EAC’s meeting, the APDL submitted the online application on July 5, 2018, for “extending validity of environment clearance dated October 25, 2011 for further period five years (till October 25, 2023).
According to green norms, the validity of EC was for five years (till October 2016) but in September 2016 the EIA notification was amended due to which “the five years validity automatically becomes seven years” and the EC to Adani’s project is currently valid till October 24, 2018.
The minutes noted that as per the EIA amendment notification (September 14, 2016), the validity can be extended by maximum period of three years. “Thus, the outer limit of the validity of EC is 10 years. However, project proponent has sought for extension of five years which becomes total validity of 12 years from the date of grant of EC,” the committee observed.
The project had come up for discussion in July 2018 meeting of the EAC as well but that time project proponent did not attend the meeting.
Bare minimum progress till now
EAC noted that as per the documents submitted by APDL, they have completed only “some infrastructure works such as boundary wall, stores, STP (Sewage Treatment Plant), transmission line RoU, offices and hostel”.
“From the photographs submitted by PP, only buildings are visible. The project has not achieved any significant progress in terms of construction activities of the BTG (Boiler, Turbine, Generator) and BOP (Balance of Plant). The validity of seven years will get expired on October 24, 2018. Further, as per the provisions of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) notification, only three years can be extended beyond seven years whereas PP sought extension of five years,” said the minutes.
The expert committee also noted that the “extension of three years is to be given only in case of project which have achieved substantial physical progress so that the extension will enable them to complete balance works.”
During the August 30 meeting of EAC, APDL made a presentation submitting that the “project activities could not be started as the Power Purchase Agreement is not available” and that “it is expected that the PPA will be signed within six months time.”
The company also told the expert panel that “detailed engineering is completed” but the “order for BTG and BOP are yet to be issued.”
The company further informed the committee that “it is expected that the plant construction activities will be completed in 36 months for Unit-1 followed by three months’ time for each unit (Unit-2, 3 & 4).”
In the documents submitted to EAC, APDL contended that it has been “granted environmental clearances, CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance and consent to establish from MoEFCC and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board” and they also have “all necessary statutory/mandatory clearance”.
“Land is already in our possession. However, the construction of thermal power plant could not be started in the absence of PPA and financial closure. APDL would like to implement this project, once the PPA is signed and the financial closure achieved,” the company said.
APDL even said that “recently, with the new power policy in place and the government of India taking initiatives in the power sector to ensure 24×7 power for all, we are hopeful to develop this power plant soon”.
According to the Ministry of Power, the central government has taken a series of measures to ease the stress in the power sector with measures like Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme for financial and operational turnaround of power distribution utilities (DISCOMs) of the country, flexibility in utilisation of domestic coal for reducing the cost of power generation and ‘Power For All’ initiative.
EAC, after detailed deliberations, sought a “PERT chart showing the timelines and completion of all the activities for commissioning the power plant within three years” and deferred a decision on the proposal.
Sector specific EACs were formed under the EIA notification 2006 for recommending or denying ECs to projects which is then finalised by the MoEFCC. But in an overwhelming majority of the cases, the MoEFCC upholds the decision of EAC whether it is recommending clearance or denying.
The proposal is now scheduled to again come up for discussion in EAC’s meeting on September 26.
APDL did not respond to a questionnaire sent by Mongabay-India seeking response to issues regarding extension of EC.
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