Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's UPA government has put a stamp of approval on a 17-year old promise made by late prime minister and Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi during his election campaign in 1989 in Bihar to set up a super thermal power project at Nabinagar in Aurangabad.
NTPC and the Railways would join hands for the project. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Thursday gave a nod to them to establish a joint venture company, Bhartiya Rail Bijlee Company Ltd, headquartered in the National Capital Region with a seed capital of Rs. 10 crore and an authorised capital of Rs. 1,605.75 crore with 74 per cent equity from NTPC Ltd and 26 per cent from Railways. The entire 1000-megawatt power generated from this project would be made available to the Railways.
The proposal for the project was conceived in 1989 by Bihar leader Satyendra Narain Sinha but went into limbo as the following state governments failed to follow it up. When in 1999, it was pursued again by the Congress Nikhil Kumar, Member of Parliament from Aurangabad said, "Non-Congress MPs were elected in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998, but none of them pursued it, as a result, the project lay dormant."
Kumar said that in 1999, Shyama Singh, Congress MP from Aurangabad, took up the issue and persuaded the Bihar government to send the proposal to the Centre and both managed to persuade the BJP-led government to approve it.
Kumar said the issue was taken till the power purchase agreement but Nitish Kumar, the then Railway Minister, wanted to build it as a captive project with 51 per cent equity. The Power Ministry objected to the proposal, effectively putting the project in cold storage.
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