The first unit of the 1,400 MW Larsen and Toubro thermal plant at Rajpura was commissioned on January 31, but without a rail link. As a stretch of 3-km railway track is yet to be built, coal to the thermal plant is being transported through trucks.
A group of farmers have got a stay on acquisition of land for railway track from the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The additional transportation cost would lead to a hike in cost of power, and as power experts say each unit would cost 20-25 paise more. Larsen and Toubro is spending Rs. 20 lakh transporting a goods train full of coal to the thermal plant and it is brought to the plant in 400 truckloads (transportation cost of each truckload is Rs. 5,000).
According to information gathered by HT, the coal to the plant site at Nalaash village near Rajpura is transported from the Mandi Gobindgarh railway station. The movement of trucks laden with coal is a common sight on the Rajpura-Mandi Gobindgarh stretch.
As the rail link seems a distant reality, L&T is expected to move the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) with a petition, seeking hike in power tariff. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has allowed relief in case of a thermal plant in Uttar Pradesh which is facing the issue.
An official of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) said the additional cost would lead to a 25 paise increase in per unit cost of power generated at the plant.
According to Jit Singh Gill, a farmer from Jiounpura village who owns land where the court has given a stay on acquisition, said the rail track would lock 60 acres of agricultural land which had high commercial value, having six other owners other than Gill.
"The railway track would devalue the land; neither Larsen and Toubro nor the Punjab government is willing to compensate for loses," said Gill, adding that the next hearing in the case was scheduled for February 26.
According to him, seven families depend on the 60-acre land, and Larsen and Toubro had refused to give adequate compensation to the farmers despite directions by the high court.
Speaking on the issue, Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra said all attempts to safeguard the interest of farmers had failed. JS Gill representing the L&T thermal plant hoped the issue would be settled soon.