Guv’s Admn to approach Union Govt for early allotment of alternate coal block

NTPC report says present site completely inoperable

SAC says rare opportunity shouldn’t be missed

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 26: State Administrative Council (SAC) has given approval to the Power Development Department for seeking alternate coal block from the Union Coal Ministry as exploration of already allotted site in Odisha has turned out to be unviable from all the aspects. Moreover, Governor Satya Pal Malik will personally speak to the Minister concerned soon after the formation of Council of Ministers of the Union Government so that rare opportunity doesn’t slip out of the hands of Jammu and Kashmir.
Highly placed sources told EXCELSIOR that in its recent meeting held under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik, the State Administrative Council deliberated upon a proposal relating to coal block moved by the Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Power Development Department.
The SAC was informed that a coal block in Kundanli-Luburi area of Odisha was allocated to Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation by the Union Coal Ministry in the month of July 2013 for a period of 25 years. This block was given on the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and under auction by competitive bidding.
The block having geological reserve of 130 and 266 Million Tonnes respectively was allocated to J&K for exploration jointly with National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPCL) keeping in view lack of experience of Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and expertise of NTPCL in this particular field.
Following allotment of coal block, Power Development Corporation engaged M/s SBICAPS as consultants to carry out the viability and sensitivity analysis of various options and accordingly advise on the way forward essentially with regard to location of the end use plant. The SBICAPS, country’s largest domestic investment bank offering the entire gamut of investment banking and corporate advisory, furnished a report mentioning that with a coal availability of 3.40 million tonnes per annum the installed capacity would be 660 Mega Watt.
However, NTPCL during detailed examination found the site in Kundanli-Luburi area of Odisha as 95% forest area and accordingly the Jammu and Kashmir Government was informed that exploration of this site would not be feasible.
In the SAC meeting, it was revealed that the NHPC has conveyed that several clearances from different quarters are required to be obtained before start of work on the project and this would be the time consuming exercise, sources said.
The highest decision making body was further informed that since five years period has already lapsed and obtaining mandatory clearances from different agencies of the Government of India as well as Odisha Government would take several years not much benefit could be obtained from the coal block.
After detailed discussion, the State Administrative Council approved the proposal of the Power Development Department for seeking alternate coal block from the Union Government. The SAC was unanimous in its decision that J&K cannot afford this rare opportunity to slip out of its hands, sources informed.
Now, the Power Development Department will shortly write to the Union Coal Ministry for allotment of alternate coal block in any part of the country but most preferably in Odisha, which has huge coal reserves, they said, adding it has also been decided that following formation of Council of Ministers of the Union Government the Governor will personally speak to the concerned Minister so that alternate site is allotted as early as possible.
They further said, “J&K has the right to demand alternate coal block as it is not the State’s fault if the present site falls in the forest area. Moreover, the project has been found unviable by none else than the country’s largest energy conglomerate”, adding “NTPC has conveyed that it is ready to float Joint Venture with J&K State Power Development Corporation if any other coal block is allotted to the State”.
It is pertinent to mention here that EXCELSIOR in its edition dated November 24, 2018 had exclusively reported that over five years after its allotment to Jammu and Kashmir and National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd (NTPCL), exploration of huge coal block in Odisha has turned out to be unviable and State has been left with no other option but to approach Union Coal Ministry for allotment of alternate location.