Chhattisgarh, central governments hold talks on NTPC row

April 20th, 2008 - 9:33 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Raipur, April 20 (IANS) Union Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh held talks with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh here Sunday to end the stalemate over water supply to National Power Thermal Corp’s (NTPC) under-construction project, and on employment to those uprooted by the plant, officials said. “Ramesh agreed to a proposal of Singh that 3,106 oustees of the 2,980 MW coal-fired project at Sipat in Bilaspur district, some 140 km north from here, should be offered jobs in the plant,” a senior government official told IANS.

The official said Ramesh, who arrived at Raipur on a day-long visit amid protests by NTPC oustees, told the chief minister that NTPC would certainly absorb at least 500 people out of the 691 families that lost land because of the project.

Last month, Singh dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accused the NTPC of not taking any steps to provide employment to project-affected families.

“The ongoing water row also prominently figured at the meeting and Singh rejected an earlier proposal of NTPC that the state government should maintain supply to the project through its own resource, Hasdev Bango dam,” the official said.

According to the state government, the continuous water supply to the project would deprive 60,000 acres of water that would have adverse impact on agriculture production.

“Chhattisgarh can ensure the water availability to the Sipat project from Hasdeo Bango only for two-three years and by that time the NTPC should lay 50 km pipeline from Mahanadi river to the plant site to meet the water requirements of the project,” Singh told Ramesh at the meeting.

Ramesh said a joint survey would be conducted by the state and central governments this year for construction of an anicut on Mahanadi river.

The thermal plant, with three units of 660 MW each and two units of 500 MW each, is coming up on 4,300 acres in Sipat.

According to officials, the plant will be the country’s first project to operate on super-critical boilers, which burn less fuel to produce the same quantity of electricity compared to conventional boilers.

Once commissioned, the Sipat project is expected to end the decade-old power crisis in several states, particularly the country’s western region covering Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The first 500 MW Sipat unit was to be commissioned in October last year and the second one of similar capacity in March-April this year. But a row with the state government regarding water supply has put the commissioning process on hold.

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