Coming to the rescue of the lenders of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Projects Ltd (RGPPL), including SBI and ICICI Bank, and PSU promoters NTPC Ltd and GAIL India Ltd, which have huge exposure in the beleaguered Dabhol project, the finance ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for a one-time relaxation to save the company and its Rs 13,000-crore assets from being classified as a non-performing asset (NPA).
“At a recent meeting chaired by finance secretary Arvind Mayaram it was directed that the department of financial services (DFS) will take up the matter for relaxation of asset classification norms to RGPPL with RBI, with a request for extended forbearance till March 31 2014 as a one-time exception, considering the circumstances and the exposure of PSUs, including PSU banks,” a senior government official told Hindustan Times.
The move would not only provide RGPC a breather, but also give some time to the lenders who would otherwise have had to show fresh slippage in their books.
RGPPL is the company promo­ted by NTPC and GAIL India’s largest gas-based power plant, the 1967 mega watt Dabhol Power project that is currently stranded due to lack of availability of domestic natural gas.
The lenders and PSU promoters of RGPPL have been sounding the alarm over Dabhol’s balance sheets. NTPC, SBI and ICICI Bank had in separate communications to the government warned that the project is on the verge of becoming an NPA, which would have a backlash on its promoters.
The company has a debt exposure of Rs 8,500 crore, apart from equity ownership by PSU and banks.
“The viability of the plant is in question, and it was clearly pointed out in the meeting that RGPPL has not been able to repay debt to lenders from September 2013, and unless adequate affordable domestic gas is ensured and the beneficiaries commence paying corresponding fixed cost, the plant will be declared an NPA,” the official said.
The meeting also decided that the petroleum ministry would move a note seeking directions from the empowered group of ministers (EGoM), about gas allocation and implementation of priority to RGPPL along with fertiliser units as per its original decision.
Further, Mayaram will write to chief secretary of Maharashtra, indicating that the state government is required to pay outstanding dues to RGPPL for the period when power was supplied to it.