Neyveli Lignite power plant hopes to get declassified forest land

Chennai, May 29 (IANS) Lignite mining-cum-power generator Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd. (NLC) is hopeful of getting around 59 hectares of declassified forest land so that its 1,000 MW power project in Tuticorin can proceed without hitch, said a top company official.

"The land was obtained from the Tuticorin Port Trust. Long back some portion of the land was classified as forest land though there is no forest there," chairman and managing director B. Surender Mohan said.

He said the state government has taken up the issue with the centre for declassification of the land.

The Rs.5,590 crore turnover NLC and Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd. (TANGEDCO) are putting up a 2x500 MW joint venture thermal power plant at Tuticorin.

According to Mohan, the supply and erection activities of the project are in progress and the first unit is expected to go on stream this December and the second unit in March 2014.

The commissioning of the project is expected to ease the acute power shortage in the state to a large extent.

A senior NLC told IANS that the joint venture got 127 hectares on 30-year lease from Tuticorin Port Trust. Of that, 59 hectares have been classified as forest land.

For declassification of forest land, the State Board of Wild Life has to recommend to the centre. And, interestingly, in Tamil Nadu such a board is in the process of being set up only now, NLC officials said.

"We hope to get the clearance from the centre in five months' time," a senior NLC official told IANS, preferring anonymity.

"Only if the land is declassified, fuel supply agreement can be signed with Mahanadi Coal Fields. Possession of clear land is one of milestones required for signing of fuel supply agreement," said a power sector analyst.

According to Mohan, three million tonnes per annum (MTPA) coal will be sourced from Mahanadi Coal Fields and the balance from other domestic sources or imports.

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