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`Dabhol project hinges on Central, State support'

Our Bureau

Pune , Nov. 22

MAHARASHTRA'S controversial Dabhol power project (block one, phase two) would be ready to produce 740-MW of naphtha-based power by May 2006 provided both the Central and the State Governments support the project by giving adequate excise duty and tax concessions, the Maharashtra State Electricity Board Chairman (MSEB), Mr Jayant Kawale, said here on Tuesday.

Mr Kawale said the two remaining blocks would also commence power generation based on LNG between September-December.

Meanwhile, the MSEB is taking multi-pronged efforts to bridge the severe demand supply scenario in the State and is in the process of setting up a state power finance corporation to raise funds for its power generation projects.

As far as distribution is concerned, the board has received expression of interest from 49 "franchisees'' who will have 10-year distribution contracts, according to Mr Kawale, who said the first of these privately distributed hubs would come up at Bhiwandi near Mumbai.

He said plans were being firmed up for a Rs 4,400-crore project that would see the transmission of power into the State from surplus States and added this included a proposal to evacuate hydropower from Arunachal Pradesh.

Talking about the Dabhol power project, Mr Kawale said, "Much will depend on the rate at which GAIL (India) will supply gas''.

He, however, cautioned that the spectre of load shedding would not go away completely even with this, thanks to a demand supply gap growing by 1,000 MW every year.

Maharashtra's current requirement of power stands at 5,300 MW and the gap in supply is expected to go up to 10,000 MW by 2010 while serious investment proposals have come in from the private sector for 4,000 MW. Dabhol is expected to provide 2,100 MW and the central sector 500 MW, Mr Kawale said, adding that the rising prices of gas had resulted in the MSEB having to put on the back burner its gas-based projects for 2,400 MW at Talegaon and Uran. The board was now looking at other projects in Kaperkheda, Chandrapur and Bhusawal, he said.

Mr Kawale, who was addressing a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) meeting with some of the city's key business leaders, said the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation would now take up the responsibility of starting off a group captive power plant project of 230 MW, initiated by the CII.

Pune's requirement, currently at 700 MW would go up to 1,400 MW in the next four years and a Rs 150-crore project to bring this to the city via a 400-KW ring main, had received the necessary approvals, he said.

The MSEB is also currently in the process of formulating a plan for private sector participation for the city's distribution needs currently pegged at Rs 850 crore. It has made a perspective plan to spend Rs 5,000 crore for the State's power requirement over the next five years.

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