NEW DELHI: Sriprakash Jaiswal has revived the turf war – literally – over NTPC’s North Karanpura power project in Jharkhand. The coal minister has raised the red flag over building such ‘super structures’ on coal-bearing land on the ground these would block efforts to rapidly ramp up production of the primary industrial fuel.
In a letter to finance minister Pranab mukherjee, Jaiswal says states should seek the coal ministry’s permission before building such super structures on coal-bearing land since these “sterilise” huge reserves. For good measure, he also points out threats that such structures face from blasting during mining operations in adjoining areas.
Mukherjee heads the ministerial panel set up to settle the turf war between NTPC and Coal India Ltd over plant’s location . The two companies have been at loggerheads ever since the plant’s foundation was laid by then prime minister A B Vajpayee in 1999.
NTPC had drawn the project’s blueprint with the aim of building it near coal mines to keep fuel and transportation costs low. But Coal India threw a spanner in NTPC’s works by arguing that if the plant was built at the proposed location, it would lose billions of tonnes of coal that lay beneath. An interministerial panel under Planning Commission member B K Chaturvedi had recommended , as first reported by TOI on February 21, that shifting the plant as the ‘best option’ . But the ministerial panel subsequently asked NTPC to scale down the plant area so that it is at a safe distance from coal mining operations. “While we honour the decision of GoM, I thought it appropriate to bring certain facts to your notice which will reflect the wide ranging implication of the decision ,” Jaiswal says.
He Said that mining beneath the structure’s surface is fraught with safety issues and should not be considered. Even with a ‘safe distance’ from blasting and water resevoir, the plant would still sterilise 5.5 billion tonne of coal reserves.
He says even shifting the plant to an area where coal seams are at a depth of over 300 metres with reduced area was also not a solution since supplies to the plant and heavy transmission lines would continue to extend into the coal-bearing area and will sterilise about 600 million tonnes of reserve.
“These (supply and power transmission) corridors will further hinder the extension of approved Amrapali open cast project of 12 mtpa (million tonne per annum) capacity and the working of Koyad-Manatu mine of 10 mtpa located on the north of the proposed corridor. The corridor will obstruct the workings/extension of these projects much before it reaches the power plant site. The working of Amrapatli would get restricted within 20 years due to these corridors.”