NTPC hopeful of solution to stalled Katwa project

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 09, 2012 12:50 hrs

Kolkata, Dec 9 (IANS) PSU power major NTPC Sunday said it is optimistic of finding a "middle path" solution to the stalled 1,600 MW project at Katwa in West Bengal's Burdwan district as the state government is "keen" to see that the project takes off.

"We are optimistic that some solution will surely come out from our discussions with the West Bengal government," National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) CMD Arup Roy Choudhury told reporters on the sidelines of PanIIT here.

The Rs.9,600-crore project has failed to take off as it would need about 1,030 acres, of which West Bengal Power Development Corporation (WBPDCL) has already acquired 575 acres.

But according to the state-run power firm, 550 acres is "not sufficient" for the 1,600 MW project as it needs land for the ash pond and the colony.

Earlier, NTPC had for the first time decided to buy land directly from farmers. However, owing to hurdles in the involvement of middlemen and the high prices quoted by farmers, the company decided against it.

Following this, the company urged the state power department to acquire land for it. The state government, however, did not respond to it as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took a decision to stay away from land acquisition for industrial projects.

Choudhury, who Saturday held talks with the state power department officials on the fiasco, said the company was now willing to look into different options to see that the project takes place but ruled out the possibility of shifting of the Katwa project.

"We are willing to look at our alignment, we are willing to re-look at the way we have done the layout of the plant. We are open to split locations for the project if we get separate land for ash pond and colony," he said.

"There is also a possibility that we can do a smaller capacity plant if we can fit it into the given land (550 acre)," the CMD said.

On his meeting with the government, he said, "There were certain things that we had discussed in the meeting (on Saturday). Both sides have decided that they will closely look at this project."

Initially, the project was scheduled to be set up by WBPDCL. However, after protests by the Trinamool Congress-backed 'Krishak o Khet Majoor Bachao Committee', an association of farmers who lost land to the project, it was handed over to NTPC in 2008.

Later, a memorandum of understanding for power purchase was signed with the then Left Front government in the state.

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