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Posted at: Jan 13, 2015, 12:43 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2015, 10:39 PM (IST)

Fate of HP-run thermal plant in WB under cloud

Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune News Services

Shimla, January 12

The joint venture company of the state government-run Himachal Power Corporation Limited (HPCL) and private Kolkata-based controversial Eastern Mineral and Trading Agency (EMTA) have claimed to have spent more than Rs 9 crore on the Rs 2,345 crore 500 mw pithead thermal plant in Raniganj in West Bengal in the past five years, but its fate continues to remain under cloud.

The de-allocation of coal blocks by the Supreme Court last year had stripped the EMTA of its mining blocks, eclipsing the HPCL-EMTA joint venture.

The CBI on the direction of the Apex court further asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe the cases of all joint ventures in the country, including HPCL-EMTA, sources here said.

The state Cabinet in June 2009 had approved the setting up of two pithead plants of a joint capacity of 500 mw and had also approved a separate agreement for mining operation.

The state government had okayed an MoU on the equity participation of 50:50 basis between HPCL and EMTA in 2007 to set up the plant at Raniganj on the banks of Damodar river.

It was aimed mainly at making for the shortage of electricity in the state during winter months and the project was to be completed in four years.

The HP Infrastructure Development Board Ltd (HPSIDB) had prepared the proposal for the purpose and the state invited expression of interest in 2006, in which six companies participated and government had selected the EMTA, HPCL officials said.

In 2009, the Centre had allocated Gourangdih ABC coal block for the joint venture company— HMPTA— for the purpose. Out of this, 50 per cent of the coal block was allotted to the joint venture and 50 per cent to the Jindel Steel Company and both had agreed to supply coal to power plant on equal basis, officials said.

The proposal for the B-block was rejected on the ground that “it was a thickly populated area and the Centre allocated A and C block to the joint venture company”.

But the Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) of the Centre cancelled the blocks in June 2012. The joint venture company moved the High Court against the Centre in September 2012, officials said.

The joint venture company in its last Board meeting had decided not to invest in the company till the case was decided by Supreme Court, officials said.

The state government has neither cancelled the joint venture nor has it sought any clearances from the Centre to go ahead with the project as the case was sub- judice, officials said.

MD, HPCL, DK Sharma said: “The joint venture has spent nearly Rs 9 crore for seeking approval and clearances from Air Force, Water and Electricity Departments and for preparing the detailed projects report for the project.”

“They have given papers to the ED on how the procedure was followed while signing the MoU and mining agreement with the company,” he said.

The ED, sub-zonal official Shimla confirmed that ED had got some documents from the HPCL on the thermal plant after the case of alleged money laundering was registered last week here under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

“We need more documents,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

HPCL takes govt nod to submit documents to ED

Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania discussed the issue of the thermal plant with the MD, HPCL, DK Sharma and sought the status of the project and development after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) lodged the case of money laundering.

The MD sought government’s approval before submitting the documents to the ED.

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