State, Centre at loggerheads over proposed NTPC power station

Bhubaneswar: The proposal for setting up of an additional power station at NTPC in Talcher has now snowballed into a controversy between the State government and Centre.

While the Centre wants the foundation laying ceremony for the proposed project to be held on September 22, the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Odisha, the high-level committee of the State government has not given approval to the Rs 9, 785 crore project.

On September 12, Odisha Energy Minister Sushant Singh had written a letter to the Union Power Minister RK Singh informing him that if the power tariff is in the range of Rs 3.40 per unit, it will prove costly for the State.

“The tariff of Power intimated by NTPC for the 1st year of operation is in the range of Rs 3.40 per unit which is much higher than Rs 2.70 per unit indicated in the review meeting held by Chief Secretary on 28.07.2018. If the above issues are not resolved, Odisha would end up paying higher cost from NTPC stations to the extent of Rs 500 crore per annum for the next 25 years,” the letter by Singh reads .

In response to the letter, the Union Power Minister however clarified that the tariff indicated was Rs 2.68 per unit which was based on feasibility report approved in 2010 but the new proposal is based on latest estimates.

A letter by the union minister said that the procurement cost of the coal has gone up during this period. “The present tariff of Rs 3.40 per unit is based on latest cost estimates which also includes state of the art technology equipment for curbing the pollution as per the revised Environmental norms issued by the Government entailing in the capital cost,” his letter read.

This apart, the letter of the state government also requested Union Ministry of Power for surrender of this high cost power and its swapping with NTPC power from Kaniha and Talcher.

“Odisha has been allocated high cost NTPC power from neighbouring State such as Barh-I(418 MW) and Barh-II(166 MW), which is likely to cost more than Rs 5 per Unit leading to high retail tariff for the consumers of Odisha. We have been requesting Ministry of Power, GOI for surrender of this high cost power and its swapping with NTPC power from Kaniha and Talcher,” the letter read.

However, the Centre said that swapping of power at present is not feasible.

Meanwhile, the row has sparked political debate in state. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who recently wrote a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressing displeasure over the delay in approval of the NTPC project has once again said,“The State government should not obstruct the construction work of NTPC project. Both the State and the nation will be benefitted from this project.”

Read also: Pradhan writes to Naveen for ‘speedy approval’ of NTPC project

Responding to Pradhan’s statement BJD spokesperson Samir Das said, “The Union Minister is giving all his statements to gain political mileage.”

Congress has also demanded cheaper electricity for the residents of Odisha.

“Residents of Odisha should get the electricity at a cheaper rate which is generated by using the coal mines present in the State,” former union minister Srikant Jena said.

While the current capacity of Talcher thermal plant is 460 megawatt and the project will end in 2021, NTPC wants to upgrade the project to a capacity of 1320 megawatt.