India's plan to deepen its friendship by providing power to Bangladesh is gathering steam with an Indian expert panel finally clearing the terms of reference (ToR) for the 1,600 megawatt (MW) thermal power project of Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd in Jharkhand.
ToRs are guidelines for conducting environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies of projects, based on which the ministry of environment, forest and climate change grants or rejects green clearance to a project.
The 1,600MW Godda thermal power project in Jharkhand is the result of an agreement between India and Bangladesh signed in January 2010 with a view to enhancing their ties through economic cooperation.
The agreement, signed by Adani Power and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), is aimed at developing the thermal power plant and supplying the entire power generated to BPDB through a dedicated transmission line.
The Rs.13,906 crore project was, however, put on hold in May over environmental concerns such as inadequate information about the withdrawal of water from the nearby Chir river and the water use.
Meanwhile, the environment ministry's expert appraisal committee (EAC) of thermal power and coal-mining projects had asked Adani Power (Jharkhand) to seek a clarification from the state government's water resources department regarding the "requirement of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) approval for water withdrawal, and if so, whether the same has been obtained".
The panel's nod came after the necessary clarifications were provided to it by the company in a meeting on 14-15 July.
"After detailed deliberations, the committee recommended the following ToR in addition to the standard TORs (as applicable) for undertaking detailed EIA study and preparation of EMP (environmental management plan)," said the minutes of the EAC meeting reviewed by Mint.
"The water reservoir shall be a part of the project area. Considering the scarcity of water, explore the feasibility of installation of air-cooled condensers in lieu of water-cooled condensers. Measures for minimizing the evaporation losses from water reservoir by development of thick green belt, etc.," the panel directed the company. (A water reservoir is planned to meet the plant's water demand during non-monsoon period.)
The total land requirement for the project is 860 acres, which includes 393 acres for the main plant, 203 acres for the green belt, 30 acres for the town and 234 acres for the ash dyke.
Of the total 860 acres, 737 acres are private land and the remaining 123 acres are government land. An additional area of 550 acres for a water reservoir will also be required.
On the EAC's query regarding the NGRBA approval, the panel noted that the water resources department of the Jharkhand government (in June 2016) has stated that the approval of the NGRBA has not been obtained because water is not to be drawn directly from the Ganga river.
The expert panel also pointed out to Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd that since February 2016, "this was the fourth time the proposal had been taken up for consideration" and "this delay in recommending TORs could have been easily avoided" if the information sought by them in the February meeting had been given expeditiously by Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd.