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SC ruling on coal block allocation jeopardises NTPC’s acquisition plan

The Supreme Court verdict–terming coal block allocation between 1993 and 2010 illegal– may put state-run power major National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) acquisition of stranded private generation plants, already under the process, in jeopardy.

Following an expression of interest for acquiring coal-based thermal power plants earlier in the year, NTPC is currently evaluating 34 acquisition opportunities totalling 55,000 Mw.

“Of these we have plans to acquire about 8,000 to 9,000 Mw of capacity,” NTPC Chairman Arup Roy Chowdhury said.

However, later responding to a query from Business standard, Chowdhury indicated the acqusition plan may be hit by the Supreme Court ruling. “There is no question of aquiring a plant which does not have a coal linkage. Now after this Supreme court verdict some of these 34 companies’ coal linkages may get affected. Now we have to see what we can do,” he said.

“We have set up a sub-committee which is evaluating all the 34 applications. This sub-committee now will also look into the impact of SC ruling in this,” he said, adding, “The SC will come with the detail ruling on September 1. Let’s see what is there.”

The Supreme Court on Monday had declared all 218 coal block allocations made from 1993 to 2010 by Centre illegal and arbitrary. The apex court will decide on the fate of the mines on September 1.

In February this year, NTPC, which has a cash balance of around Rs 17,000 crore, had sought Expression of Interest (EOI) from state electricity boards, power generation companies, independent power producers etc for offering their coal-based thermal power projects for possible acquisition. Against the EOI, the power major had received 34 proposals, who are planning to sell their assets to NTPCto cut debt.

NTPC currently has an installed capacity of 42,454 MW comprising of 22 coal-based and 8 gas-based projects and plans to add 14,000 MW by 2017. Beside, another 20,000 MW projects are under construction.

Katwa project

Meanwhile, NTPC is planning to add one more unit of 660Mw in the existing project at Katwa in West Bengal. “Katwa thermal power plant of 1320MW (660MWx2) is a reality as we already have 550 acres land already in our possession and fenced. We may put one more additional unit of 660MW, if we get the additional land we are looking,” NTPC chairman Arup Roychoudhury said one the sidelines of Bengal Chamber of Commerce organised environment and energy conclave here.

NTPC is looking for about 300 acres of additional land, which the company plans to buy directly from the land-owners.

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