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Power crisis: no quick relief in sight

Maharashtra's neighbour Gujarat has snowballed the process to revive the Dabhol Power Plant seeking higher price for the gas, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2007 19:58 IST

Reeling under tremendous shortage of power, Maharashtra should not expect quick relief. Its neighbour Gujarat has snowballed the process to revive the Dabhol Power Plant seeking higher price for the gas forcing the Central government to push the deadline for completing the gas pipeline from Gujarat to Maharashtra.

The 2184 MW capacity power plant in a remote fishing village of Western Maharashtra can be an answer to the state’s power woes. In fact, the Centre has constituted an empowered Group of Ministers to supervise revival of the plant and remove hindrances in the process. A major hurdle --- high cost of power generated --- that lead to closure of the plant five years ago has been removed with the Centre proposing that the power would be available at 95 paisa per unit. For that, the gas has to come from Gujarat.

But, Gujarat does not seem to be inclined. The state Chief Minister Narendra Modi made his regret obvious to Planning Commission earlier this week when he said, “we notice with regret that an attempt is being made to subsidize revival of the Dabhol Power Project of Maharashtra at the cost of Gujarat”.

Modi blamed the gas supply from Gujarat to Dabhol as a cause for prices of gas rising by over 100 per cent for industries and power plants in Gujarat. According to him, the solution is a small cess of gas throughout the country would be a better revival for the project.

His, this stand, has led to delay in laying gas pipeline through Gujarat. “We will have to revise the timelines for finalisation of the gas pipeline route neat Surat,” Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi informed the eGOM in later part of March, while informing that the issue has been taken up with Gujarat CM Modi.

The entire pipeline is complete barring a 15-kilometre stretch in Gujarat where local authorities have sought for diversion. The pipeline was to be competed by end of March, but, in wake of resistance by Gujarat government, the deadline has been extended to May 20, this year.

The eGOM attended by Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh was also informed that the operation of second block of the power plant by April has been delayed due to financial constraints. Also, the Power Purchase Agreement ahs not been signed pending which work towards completion could not be undertaken.

Dabhol is one of the many issues on which Modi is angry with the Centre. He has termed the Centre’s denial of a campus of Mumbai IIT to Gujarat as unfortunate and decision of the I&B ministry to allow Mallika Sarabhai’s series on Gujarat as vindictive act towards the Gujarat government. But, then, Modi knows that Dabhol can hit the Congress most in Maharashtra as the state of facing huge power crises.