CSE alleges wrongdoing in solar mission, firm denies charges

February 1st, 2012 - 9:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) The CSE Wednesday accused an Indian company of cornering lucrative projects related to a project meant to provide 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022. The firm said the CSE did not check with it and had “wrongly perceived” the information with it.

The CSE said Indian company Lanco flouted guidelines issued by the new and renewable energy ministry and floated front companies too to grab no less than nine projects totalling 235 MW.

This was about 40 percent of the 620 MW worth of projects auctioned by the government in the first batch of the first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

The ministry had in 2010 ruled that the first batch of the projects would be equitably distributed among companies to encourgae competition and provide room for innovation and growth.

Each company was allowed to bid for and win one 100 MW solar thermal and one 5 MW solar photovoltaic project. In totality, one company was eligible to get 105 MW worth of projects.

The National Solar Mission was to be completed in three phases with installation of 1,000 MW of grid-connected solar power by 2013 in the first phase.

CSE director general Sunita Narain said: “Solar is the option for the future. But clean energy cannot be built on dirty corporate practices.”

The Lanco group admitted it had equity participation in a few of the companies that won the projects but said equity participation by Lanco was within permissible limits.

“(It) is in line with the RFP (request for proposal) documents, and these facts were also reported in Lanco Infratech Ltd Annual Report. There is no illegality involved as reported by CSE,” a company statement said.

The company initiated work on these nine projects on 1,000 hectares at Askandara village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

In the winning bids for solar thermal projects, Lanco’s name appears only in the case of Diwakar Solar Projects, which bagged a 100 MW solar thermal contract.

Another subsidiary, Khaya Solar Projects, appears on the approved list of 5 MW solar photovoltaic project proponents.

On investigation, the CSE found that seven more companies had direct links with Lanco - some had Lanco employees and their family members as directors while others had strong commercial ties to it.

Lanco’s own annual report indicated that all the seven companies were firmly in its control.

Lanco Infratech is the flagship company of the Lanco group. “Based on the guaranteed feed-in tariff being paid to solar projects in the first phase, the company will get assured revenue of Rs.13,000 crore from these projects over a period of 25 years,” said CSE.

The detailed project reports of all projects were almost identical - word for word, page by page.

The CSE said neither the ministry nor the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (which is responsible for the contracting, buying and selling of solar power) have a mechanism to monitor the activities of companies winning contracts.

The two agencies do not even provide the details under the Right to Information Act, saying it is not in public interest.

Lanco said it had given the necessary information to NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN).

“It is important to note that the bidders who Lanco supported were able to bid at one of the lowest tariffs as Lanco provided them the latest technology and complete EPC solutions for the projects.

“As the power purchase agreement (PPA) for these projects are for a period of 25 years, Lanco’s equity participation in these projects also brings confidence to the bidder to use our technology and EPC solutions in arriving at such a competitive tariff,” the statement added.

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