Bhubaneswar, Aug 6: Once bitten, twice shy. That appears to be the plight of the Odisha government, which has been hauled over the coals in the Coalgate scam. With the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the alleged misrepresentation of facts by the Nava Bharat Power Private Limited while applying for a coal block and the sale of its entire stake to Essar Power and its subsidiaries, the government has stalled the process of land acquisition for the 2250 MW coal-fired power plant proposed by the company in an effort to save itself from further embarrassment.
Nav Bharat had sold 100% of its equity to Essar Power and its subsidiary company at a huge profit of Rs. 200 crore soon after being allocated the Rampia and Rampia Dip side coal blocks for its power plant proposed at Meramundali near Angul. The company was allocated the coal blocks in 2008.
“We have decided to stall the land acquisition process for Nava Bharat in view of the ongoing inquiry by the central investigative agency. The government is also holding consultations with the Law department on the course of action to be taken on stake sale by Nava Bharat Power to Essar Power since the government was kept in the dark on the deal,” said an official of the Energy department.
Essar Power had made a fresh requisition for land acquisition after it took over all stakes from the Hyderabad-based company. Though notification under Section 6 (1) of Land Acquisition Act was issued, no land has been acquired yet for the power project. Meanwhile, the notification has lapsed. Moreover, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with Nava Bharat Power expired in June 2009.
The proposed 2,250-Mw coal-fired plant at Meramundali requires 1,200 acres of land and 5,057 million tonnes of coal every year. In the original MoU, Nava Bharat had committed to start the first unit of the project comprising 525 Mw output by January 2014.