THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An expensive solution has become a lot more expensive. After years of delay and weighty changes to compensation packages, redemption appears to be in sight for the jinxed Tirunelveli-Madakkathara 400 kV ‘power corridor’. But it will now cost the State Government Rs 1,020 crore in compensation payments as a Rs 341-crore package declared in 2014 has been given an elaborate makeover. A final meeting of stakeholders is being convened here this week where the scheme will be presented in detail before land surveys are undertaken. Heavy-duty lines have to be drawn between Edamon in Pathanamthitta and Pallikkara in Kochi to complete the project.
Central transmission utility Power Grid Corporation Ltd (PGCIL) had drawn the lines between Tirunelveli and Edamon and between the 400 kV sub-station in Madakkathara (Thrissur) and Pallikkara years ago.
But a ‘gap’ of 148 kilometres remains to be filled owing to right-of-way issues raised by landowners in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts. This inter-state transmission facility is a must for Kerala for evacuating electricity generated at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu. Now infirm power from the first 1,000 megawatt unit of KKNPP reaches Madakkathara via the circuitous Udumalpet route, resulting in transmission losses.
Once the second unit also becomes operational at the nuclear facility, the Tirunelveli-Edamon-Kochi-Madakkathara route would become indispensable.
“All arrangements have been made. The meeting would be conducted on February 12. The survey would be taken up soon,” Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed said. M Sivasankar, chairman and managing director, Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), said the landowners had found the revised compensation package acceptable. To fund it, the KSEB will take loans from the Power Finance Corporation Ltd (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd (REC), he said.
The Tirunelveli-Madakkathara line should have been completed in March 2010. But right-of-way issues popped up delaying construction on the Edamon-Kochi segment. PGCIL refused to foot the bill on compensation, and subsequently approached the High Court protesting the delays.
In August 2014, the State Government announced a Rs 341-crore compensation package by reworking a 2009 offer. But a final solution still eluded the government. Subsequently, at a December 4 meeting, the government announced that it would pay ‘five times’ the fair price for land acquired for the project.
Nevertheless, it will take a while to complete the transmission project, experts said. “Once work is started, an optimistic estimate would be a full year before it is done,” a senior transmission official with the KSEB said.
Inter-state Transmission Woes
■ The Mysore-Areekode 400 kV transmission line is likely to be over only by June at the earliest.
■ It will take at least a year to complete the Edamon-Kochi segment of the Tirunelveli-Madakkathara line once work is started.
■ PGCIL and the Central Electricity Authority have, in principle, okayed extension of Chattisgarh-Pugalur (TN) line to Madakkathara. This would enable Kerala to draw 2000 MW, but Edamon-Kochi fiasco had raised doubts regarding Kerala’s ability to meet deadline.