TALCHER: Odisha may well be staring at a huge power crisis from the beginning of 2021 as NTPC’s 460 MW Talcher Thermal Power Station (TTPS) faces closure from January 1 for failing to fulfill the environmental conditions laid by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The CPCB had issued an ultimatum to the old power plants to take expedient steps to upgrade and meet the emission norms including solid particulate matter (SPM), sulphur and nitrogen content, otherwise, they would be liable to be closed from December 31 this year.
Since the cost of meeting the norms comes to Rs 50 lakh per MW, it would have cost TTPS a whopping Rs 23,000 crore to fix the deficiencies. Hence, it decided to replace its existing plant with two new ones of 660 MW each in 2018. But the state government proved to be a stumbling block.
Even as the contract for the Rs 9,000 crore project was awarded the same year, the state government delayed the project clearance till February this year. It is now too late for TTPS to execute the project and NTPC’s lack of interest in the same has only made matters worse, sources said.
TTPS was built in two phases. In 1968, four units of 60 MW each were commissioned and two more 110 MW units followed in 1982. The plant was initially being managed by erstwhile Orissa State Electricity Board.
But owing to losses and less than 15 per cent plant load factor, it was sold to NTPC in 1995, when Biju Patnaik was the CM. NTPC had invested heavily on the plant for its renovation and modernisation in 2000 and its life was fixed up to March 2021 by the Central Electricity Authority.
But, meanwhile, CPCB came up with new guidelines which has now put TTPS in dock. However, a top TTPS official struck a note of optimism saying, "There is an ultimatum but we are hopeful of its extension beyond the end of the current year."