After spending a whopping Rs 2,284 crore to set up a 1,600 MW Super Critical Power Project in Uppur, Ramanathapuram district, Tangedco has now decided to shift it to Udangudi in Thoothukudi citing legal hurdles. The decision, which was taken less than a week before the counting of votes for the Assembly polls, has come under fire from experts.
The power utility has already paid Rs 2,283.75 crore to BHEL and L&T, the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors, and Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE), the project management consultant, revealed the response to an RTI query filed by retired executive engineer of Tangedco, S Neelakantapillai.
The RTI response said BHEL has finished 56.28% of the work on the boiler, turbine and generator package, and received Rs 1,796.97 crore, while L&T has completed 56.35% of the seawater intake and outlet system and collected Rs 477.94 crore. Besides them, TCE was paid Rs 8.84 crore. However, after incurring the massive expenditure, the chief engineer of the project asked the contractors to suspend work for six months or until further orders citing the NGT’s direction to stop work until obtaining revised Environmental Clearance. The Public Information Officer’s response shows that the utility issued an order dated April 28, granting in-principle approval to shift the project to Udangudi. Also, a letter was sent by CMD/Tangedco to the Additional Chief Secretary, Energy Department, requesting administrative approval from TN.
Meanwhile, in its 12th meeting on June 14, the Expert Appraisal Committee on Thermal Power Projects directed Tangedco to submit a fresh environmental impact assessment report in line with the NGT direction, and an aerial survey or drone video of the full project area at Uppur. Experts urged Tangedco to drop its plan to shift the project to Udangudi, which would result in large financial loss. “There are reports that the SC has lifted the NGT stay. I don’t see any reason for abandoning the project midway,” Neelakantapillai said. Meanwhile, Tangedco sources said the government had not given approval for the proposal to shift the project to Udangudi.