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Home News Power Sector News Environmental issues - Tough times ahead for new power projects in Orissa

Environmental issues - Tough times ahead for new power projects in Orissa

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OrissaTough times are ahead for the companies planning to set up new thermal power plants in Orissa. With environmental impact of such projects upper most in the mind of the government, particularly in the Talcher- Sambalpur-Jharsuguda belt, the fate of the power projects in the pipeline hinges on the final report of the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), which is carrying out an ‘environmental carrying capacity’ study.

The interim report on the carrying capacity study, submitted by the institute, has suggested that only those projects which have already obtained the permission from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), should be allowed to go ahead with their plans. The projects which are yet to obtain the clearance will have to wait till the final report is submitted.

The state government has in principle accepted the NEERI’s interim report submitted to the Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) and the department of forest and environment will seek the government order for its acceptance soon, sources said. Based on the existing level of water and air pollution, the study would project future levels of pollution within 35-km radius around Rengali. The institute will recommend how many industries should come up in this belt in sectors like power, aluminium and steel.

The issue came up for discussion in the State Level Single Window Clearance Authority (SLSWCA) meeting held today. The meeting chaired by the chief secretary Tarunkanti Mishra deferred its decision on all the twelve projects put before it.

It was decided to send all proposed power and steel projects for scrutiny of the task forces on power and steel. The task force on power headed by energy secretary has been asked to evolve a policy framework for the power plants which would be beneficial to the state.

Since certain conditions put by the state for setting up of thermal power plants may not be compatible with the Central Electricity Act and could be challenged in the court of law, it was decided to formulate a state-friendly policy for power projects which would be legally tenable.

It may be noted, the Orissa government has made it conditional for the IPPs coming up in the state to supply 12 percent of the total power generated by the company to the state at variable cost. Besides, the project proponent would have to contribute 6 paise per unit of power exported by them to an environment management fund. Going a step ahead, the state government had asked the Adani Mining Private Ltd (AMPL), proposing to set up a 2500 Mw washery reject based power plant at Machhakuta in Angul district, to contribute 10 paise per unit of power to the Environment Management Fund (EMF) instead of 6 paise for other coal based IPPs. It was also asked to provide 20 percent of the power to the state at variable cost compared to 12 percent for other IPPs.

Source- Business standard

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