Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project

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Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project is a proposed coal-fired power plant in Jharkhand, India.

Location

The project is proposed for Koderma district in Jharkhand state. The company has not disclosed the exact location but residents of Bhadiya, Bhadiyajohar and Beherabad report that the company has acquired land (see details below). This map shows the location of Talaiya village, the approximate location of the project according to its environmental clearance from the India government.

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Background

Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project is one of nine Ultra Mega Power Projects proposed by the government of India as part of a strategy to add an additional 100,000 megawatts of generation capacity by 2017. The 4,000 megawatt project is in the state of Jharkhand and was being developed by Reliance Power.[1][2]

Reliance Power wanted to commission the first unit of the Tilaiya UMPP by May 2015, but has not been able to achieve financial closure for the 24,000-crore project due to non-availability of land. The project received stage II environment clearance for the plant site in 2011, but has yet to receive it for the two coal blocks allocated to it.[3]

In March 2015 the project was still reported as stalled due to issues with land acquisition.[4]

In late April 2015 Reliance Power announced that it had withdrawn from the project due to its inability to get the required land.[5] Reliance Power said the procurers of Tilaiya UMPP accepted the termination of power purchase agreement and decided to purchase the entire shareholding in the project special purpose vehicle (SPV) from the Reliance by way of mutual discussion with the developers. In January 2016, Reliance said it wanted to pull out of the Krishnapatnam Ultra Mega Power Project as well, and work out a similar arrangement to Tilaiya.[6]

Mine for Tilaiya Project

In November 2010, the India Coal Ministry approved a mining plan submitted by RPower, granting initial clearance for mining coal from Kerandari B and C coal blocks in Orissa to feed the company's proposed Rs.20,000 Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project (UMPP). The coal mines can support 10,000 MW of power generation. It is estimated to be the largest coal block in India and among the top three in the world, with reserves in excess of 1.2 billion tons. RPower is understood to have obtained the initial environment clearance as well, and has commenced land acquisition process for developing the mines, which have estimated coal reserves of 1.2 billion tons allotted for the Tilaiya UMPP. The plan envisages an annual coal production of 40 million tons for 30 years.[7]

The Coal Ministry said that the company would utilize 16 million tons per annum of coal exclusively for the Tilaiya UMPP and the balance 24 million tons would be used or disposed off as per the conditions stipulated in the allocation letter. The mines are located around 30 kilometer from the existing line of Indian Railways, and could supply coal to other group companies.[7] The permission has come even as the government, TATA Power, and RPower are locked in a legal battle in the Supreme Court over permission to divert coal from the Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project to another RPower project.[8]

In January 2014 it was reported that although the Tilaiya project was allocated two coal blocks at Kerendari BC coal mines, the blocks had yet to secure forest clearance.[9]

Carbon Credits

On July 12, 2011, it was reported that Reliance Power was seeking to earn almost Rs 2,000 crore in 10 years by registering its 4,000 MW Tilaiya Ultra Mega Power Project for carbon credits. The move was part of the company's goal to earn Rs 5,000 crore in carbon offset credits from the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) with three of its Ultra Mega Power Projects of 4,000 MW.[10] That same day, the UN announced that Reliance's Krishnapatnam Ultra Mega Power Project will receive 12.3 million credits and the firm's other 4,000 MW plant, Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Madhya Pradesh, will receive 22.5 million.[11]

Questions regarding location and legitimacy

In November 2011, Down to Earth reported that the plant had been awarded carbon credits worth thousands of crores of rupees, even though the project validator acknowledged that it did not carry out physical inspection of the plant site. Down to Earth therefore did its own inspection of the proposed plant's location:

In its website, Reliance states in one location that the plant is to be set up in Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand;[12] elsewhere on the same website, the company states that the plant is to be set up in the Koderma district of Jharkhand.[12] The exact location of the plant is not known. Its environmental clearance says the plant is “near Tilaiya village.” The reservoir of Tilaiya dam will supply water to the thermal power plant. Yet when asked about the project site, its security personnel said they did not know about it, and maybe the plant's location is actually the adjacent Kolhuakala village. Residents of Kolhuakala, however, claimed they have never heard about the plant. After several inquiries, Mohammad Shakur from the neighbouring Bhadiyajohar village said Kolhuakala and his village are among those that Reliance would acquire for the power project. He said the plant site was in Bhadiya village, about 10 km from the Tilaiya dam. On reaching Bhadiya, residents confirmed that Reliance Power had acquired some 240 hectares from 70 farmers of the village for the plant.

According to a financial expert based in Mumbai, “It is perhaps one of the very few projects in the country that managed CDM registration even before acquiring land, let alone becoming operational.” The validation report, available on the UNFCCC website, says the project will acquire land in 10 unnamed villages, covering 1,089 hectares. Discussions with residents of Bhadiya, Bhadiyajohar and Beherabad revealed that the company planned to acquire about 1,700 hectares from 14 villages.

Some residents in Bhadiyajohar and Beherabad said that although a public hearing was conducted, it was "more of a farce: There was neither any commitment about employment nor any discussion on compensation." Residents also said they were pressured into selling their land, and there were allegations of land encroachment: Bhadiya residents in 2009 took Reliance Power-owned Jharkhand Integrated Power Limited to Hazaribagh Court for acquiring 16 hectares of village commons land without permission or compensation. The matter is currently sub-judice. The challenge is ongoing while JIPL is seeking environmental clearance for its coal mine.[13]

Land acquired

In 2012 the India ministry of power clarified that Reliance Power's Tilaiya project enjoys the exemption from a key provision of the Forest Act stating that the project's status is on a par with 'central government undertakings,' clearing the way for the project to acquire land. The exemption relieves Reliance from the responsibility of providing non-forest land to compensate for the loss of forest land to be acquired for the project. The project would take up 1,570 acres for the main power plant and another 4,000 acres for the coal block. The clearance was withheld by the previous minister who argued that the Tilaiya project, being a project of Reliance Power, should not be treated as a Central Government undertaking.[3]

Opposition

The mining project for Tilaiya UMPP is estimated to displace more than 8,500 households from Kerendari. In May 2012 a public hearing on the project was held in Hazaribagh town, 44 km from Kerendari. Prior to the hearing, residents of the area approached the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-profit in Delhi, saying it was difficult to participate in a public hearing held so far from their home. CSE wrote letters to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) stating that the public hearing for the project was in violation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification of 2006, which states that a public hearing should be conducted at or in close proximity to the project site.

In response, MoEF sent an urgent mail to the member secretary of the state pollution control board, directing him to look into the matter and make sure that the public hearing took place as close to the project site as possible. Despite MoEF’s direction, the board did not change the venue of the public hearing. In response, village residents staged protests during the public hearing. They were also concerned about rehabilitation of people who would be displaced: although Reliance Power has proposed a package of Rs 10 lakh per acre (0.4 ha), it is not willing to make a written commitment, they allege. About 200 people were arrested for peacefully protesting the hearing.

A week later 20 villages in Hazaribagh district resolved not to let Reliance Power mine coal from Kerendari B and C blocks for the coal project. They also called on the MoEF to take necessary action against the public hearing that was conducted in violation of the EIA Notification.[14]

Protester killed

According to a letter of complaint by the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), police fired on protesters on July 23, 2013 at Pagar village, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand, killing protester Kesar Mahato and causing several injuries. JHRM asked Satyabrata Pal, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, to investigate and take action in response to the incident.[15]

Ex-Im Bank funding

In July 2014 the US Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) stated that it was considering financing the Tilaiya UMPP and associated coal mine. In response, over 100 organizations in India signed a letter urging the Bank to reject funding the coal project.[16]

Project Details

Sponsor: Reliance Power, the initial proponent, abandoned the project in late April 2015.[5]
Location: Tilaiya village, Hazaribagh district, Jharkhand
Coordinates: 24.316667, 85.6 (approximate)
Status: Cancelled
Nameplate capacity: 4,000 MW
Type:
Projected in service: At the time that it abandoned the project, Reliance Power claimed that the earliest it could be commissioned was 2023.[5]
Coal Type:
Coal Source: Kerandari B and C coal blocks in Orissa
Estimated annual CO2:
Source of financing:
MoEF permits: Environmental clearance, (April 7, 2008); Environmental clearance extension (Oct 4, 2013)

Articles and resources

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References

  1. Rebecca Petchey, Michael Lampard and Alan Copeland, Thermal coal", Australian commodities, ABARE, Volume 17 number 1, March quarter 2010, page 155.
  2. Amiti Sen & Subhash Narayan, "States make case for second UMPP with advanced land clearances", Economic Times, (India), March 20, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rachita Prasad, "Reliance Power's Tilaiya Project exempted from land compensation," Economic Times, Nov 23, 2012.
  4. "More public sector projects face the land hurdle," The Hindu. Mar 10, 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Reliance Power, "Reliance Power Terminates Tilaiya UMPP", April 28, 2015.
  6. "Reliance Power seeks to exit Krishnapatnam power project," Livemint, Jan 26, 2016
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Coal Ministry Okays Mining Plan Of RPower's Jharkhand Project" RTT News, Nov. 15, 2010.
  8. "R Power gets nod to divert coal from Tilaiya to other projects" Steel Guru India, Nov. 15, 2010.
  9. Urmi A Goswami, "No clearance for captive coal blocks for UMPPs in ‘inviolate’ forest areas: MoEF," Economic Times, Jan 1, 2014
  10. Rachita Prasad, "Reliance Power aims to earn Rs 5,000 cr in carbon credits from 3 ultra mega power projects" The Economic Times, July 12, 2011.
  11. David Fogarty, "Carbon credits for India coal power plant stoke criticism" Reuters Africa, July 12, 2011.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Tilaiya Ultra Metga Power Project," Reliance website, accessed March 2012
  13. Sugandh Juneja, "Reliance’s unusual reward" Energy Biz, Nov. 15, 2011.
  14. "Hazaribagh villages up against Reliance Power" Down to Earth, June 18, 2012.
  15. Ashok Shrimali, "Jharkhand rights movement writes to NHRC to probe police firing on protesters against thermal project," Counterview, July 26, 2013
  16. "100+ Indian Organizations Sign Letter Opposing Export-Import Bank Coal Project," Sierra Club, Aug 27, 2014
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