It was the Odisha government that first mooted a joint venture proposal when the Union coal ministry allotted the Baitarani coal block to Kerala, Odisha and Gujarat in 2007. However, Kerala then wanted to set up set a thermal power plant at Cheemeni in Kasaragod using its share of coal.
As the plans for an own plant fell flat, Kerala went back to Odisha with a similar proposal in 2011. But, the Odisha government ruled out the proposal without citing any specific reasons, forcing Kerala to explore other options
.However, with the discussions on development of basic infrastructure facilities by stake holders for Baitarani, Talcher and IB Valley coal blocks, senior bureaucrats representing Odisha hailed the once shelved joint venture proposal between Odisha and Kerala as the most viable one for both states. The sudden change of attitude of the Odisha has come to fore on Tuesday during a meeting attended by top officials in Odisha government and stake holders of coal fields in Odisha.
"It was true that the Odisha government was not much keen when we mooted the proposal for setting up the power plant as a joint venture with them. However, they did not rule out the proposal altogether. Revenue secretary of Odisha in fact brought the proposal back again into forefront and suggested the joint venture proposal would be best the possible option for exploring the coal reserve in Baitarani block," said Annamma John, state electricity board management member who represented Kerala at the meeting in Odisha on Tuesday.
"Considering the abysmal situation of power in Kerala, State Planning Board vice-chairman K M Chandrasekhar too has taken up the joint venture proposal with the higher ups in Orissa. His intervention is considered as one of the reasons that prompted Odisha to join hands with Kerala," sources in power department said.
Kerala, Odisha and Gujarat together hold the right to explore the coal in Baitarani west coal block.The meeting of representatives of government organizations and agencies that hold rights over coal fields in Talcher, Baitarani and IB valley in Odisha on
Tuesday's meeting agreed to develop the basic infrastructure facilities, including rail lines towards exploring the coal spread across huge expanse of land in Odisha.
The meeting also agreed to entrust RITES, a government of India enterprise, to carry out a study on the basic infrastructure development needs collectively required for exploring the coal in these blocks. Expense for the collective basic infrastructure would be borne by the stake holders together.
Kerala holds the right for exploration of coal in 1,100 hectares of land in Odisha. More than 100 families are to be rehabilitated before Kerala can start exploring the coal field. A proposal for rehabilitation package has already been cleared by the Union government.