In a move likely to invite criticism, the Congress government in Haryana has gone ahead with acquiring 174 acres for a captive generation power plant proposed by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in Jhajjar.
In fact, the state government may soon announce the award for the land under section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act (enquiry and award by collector).
The 2,100 MW gas-based, captive generation power plant was originally part of the proposed 12,500 acre special economic zone (SEZ) in Jhajjar to be developed by a special purpose vehicle (SPV) - Reliance Haryana SEZ Ltd, a joint venture of RIL and Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC). Reliance is the major stakeholder in the JV.
However, with the SEZ project for Jhajjar being shelved by Reliance to make way for a model economic township (on the lines of industrial model township), the raison d'être behind the government chipping in with acquisition of land for a captive generation power plant is likely to come under the scanner. Moreover, uncertainty looms large over the allocation of gas for the power plant as well.
The 2100 MW gas-based power plant was proposed to be set up by RHSL at Faizabad (Pasaur) village in Jhajjar district along with a sewerage treatment plant (STP) to ensure continuous water supply to the power plant. The land requirement for the power plant, the STP and water pipelines were estimated at 269 acres, 24 acres and 3.2 acres, respectively.
In fact, the Reliance-led JV had sent a proposal to the state government for acquisition of 185 acres for the power plant, 24 acres for STP and 3.2 acres for water pipeline right of way. Subsequently, the state government agreed to intervene and acquire land.
Sources said that the state government initiated the process of acquiring land for the captive power generation plant in 2008. “The proposal for acquisition of land under section 4 of the land acquisition act was notified on August 19, 2008, for acquiring 174 acres, six kanals, 18 marlas for the power plant and 21 acres two kanals and 17 marlas for STP,” sources said. Reliance also purchased about 2/3rd of land for the project. “The government is acquiring this land for the HSIIDC. But it is definitely for the RIL-piloted captive power plant,’’ said a top official.
Three days ago, the state government had announced to put all those land acquisitions on hold where the notification of section 4 has been issued in the last six months. The decision was taken in view of the introduction of a land acquisition bill in Parliament.
The state government, however, exempted cases of land acquisition for infrastructure projects such as roads, sewerage system, canals, drainage system and power projects.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said since the provisions of the new land acquisition bill would have implications on land acquisition matters, they will wait for the outcome of the new legislation before proceeding in these cases of land acquisition.