With elections round the corner, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, has managed to get his way with the Centre.
He has obtained allotment of gas from the D6 gas fields of Reliance Industries Ltd for all gas-based power plants in the state.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the biggest states where Congress is seen to be on a firm footing. Reddy had last September threatened Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of dire “social and political consequences” if gas power plants in the state were not amongst the first to get the benefit of the gas produced by Reliance from its D6 block in the Krishna Godavari region, off the Andhra coast.
That the Centre is taking no chances with an important state like Andhra Pradesh is clear from the fact that a special meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on gas allocation, under external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, is to be held shortly to ratify this decision.
The petroleum ministry has taken special permission from the Election Commission to hold this EGoM meeting, in view of the model code of conduct.
"All existing gas based power stations in Andhra Pradesh including those pending for commissioning be allocated gas at 70 per cent plant load factor (measure of the output of a power plant)," says a note prepared for the meeting.
The eight gas-based power plants of Andhra Pradesh would be the first — after fertiliser companies, which top the list of beneficiaries — to receive Reliance D6 gas.
Interestingly, other gas-based power plants in western and northern India, classified as 'others' under the EGOM note, have been allocated just enough to operate their plants at 60.5 per cent plant load factor.