State govt mulls involving private players in power generation 

Move may eventually end dominion of NTPC hints MP Godse

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Nitin Pawar

Nashik : Unable to bear the rising cost of power production, the state government is seriously considering involving private players in power production. Since the past four years, the state government has been claiming that the cost of power generation within the state is increasing.

The government has been suffering losses worth crores of rupees on account of the high cost of generation. Therefore, now in a bid to curtail its losses, the state government is determined to reduce the power generation at government power plants by involving private companies for power generation in the state.

Meanwhile, according to a press release issued by Nashik constituency’s MP Hemant Godse, the state government is mulling to shut down one unit of the NTPS by 2019 and the another unit by 2022. Godse has hinted that the government has made its plan to shut down NTPS and is now mulling to tak over the Ratan India Thermal Power station located in Sinnar.

“Power generation has become exorbitant for government-run power plants. Notably, in past couple of years, many private players have come into the market. The private power generation companies are offering to provide power at much cheaper rates that are half the cost of our generation.

Besides, at present, the number of new power generation companies using solar power has also increased in private sector. Therefore, the government is now is determinant to encourage more private players to generate power for us,” Maharashtra State Power Generation Company’s (MAHAGENCO’s) Chief Engineer (Projects), VM Jaideo said while replying to a query over the future of Eklahare power plant and the setting up of the new 660 Mega Watt plant here.

Jaideo said that government will provide coal to these private companies from our coalfields and get the power generated from them. “This would eventually help us cut our production cost and we will be able to sell electricity to our consumers at a cheaper rate,” Jaideo said. He informed that owing to surplus power generation, the state government has no intention to install new power plants anywhere in the state. As result, uncertainty looms over the existing Eklahare power plant and the upcoming 660 MW plant as well.

The Nashik Thermal Power Station (NTPS) at Eklahare plays an important role in managing the grid balance between western Maharashtra and Vidharbh region. Accordingly, in 2011, the proposed 660 Mw project at Eklahare was approved in principle by the then Democratic Front government in the state.

But over the period of time despite frequent follow-ups by Nashik constituency’s member of parliament (MP) Hemant Godse, the proposed project is stranded in red tape and the related file is said to be gathering dust at the power ministry’s office.

US Nikhare, Chief Engineer, NTPS said, “At present, we are generating over 360 MW power per day at the plant. Besides, the power generation cost of NTPS has become more expensive. At present, we purchase coal from the government coal blocks located in Chhatisgarh and Odisha.”

Nikhare said that using imported coal is not feasible for NTPS as the coal has to be transported from the dockyard in Mumbai to Nashik, which is capital intensive.  “However, considering the overall generation cost at NTPS, the state power minister has specifically instructed us that the generation should be scaled down. As a result, we are now running two of the three units at the plant and have maintained the power generation at 210 MW. Besides, considering current scenario, the new 660 MW project has been put on hold.

In fact, it is unlikely that the construction work for the proposed 660 MW plant in next two to three years,” added Nikhare. “NTPC has received No-Objection Certificates (NoCs) from all the ministries concerned. But the issue over the height of the chimney is still pending for the approval at the defence ministry.

Therefore, we are helpless as the defence ministry has not given its approval for the project so far,” NIkhare said. Meanwhile, if Godse’s anticipation comes true then over lakhs of people are on the verge of losing their jobs.

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