CHENNAI: With three new thermal power projects getting ready to go live, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), the State-owned electricity producer, has sought support from the Centre and Odisha government to develop an earlier-allotted coal block in Angul in Odisha.
"The three new thermal stations, with a total generation capacity of 3,440 mega-watt (MW), will need at least 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of additional coal every day," a senior TANGEDCO official told The New Indian Express. Sources in TANGEDCO said the Centre allotted Chandrabilla coal block to the State power utility in 2016. The given period to excavate coal from the block was between 2016 and 2021.
But the development of the block was delayed due to the lack of clearance for exploration in the forest area by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). "If the Centre doesn’t approve Chandrabilla coal block quickly, TANGEDCO will have to purchase the fuel from private entities," the official said.
The construction work on the upcoming coal-fired North Chennai stage III is already complete, while the two other thermal projects - Ennore Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Udangudi - are nearly (95 per cent) over. The Tamil Nadu government has chalked out plans to commence North Chennai stage III project work before May 2022 and others, by the year-end. A senior official said in 2019 TANGEDCO had floated a tender worth Rs 21,000 crore to hand over the Chandrabilla coal mine project.
TANGEDCO asks Odisha to help secure forest clearance
BUT the tender process drew a blank and no bidders came forward. Subsequently, the pandemic delayed the tendering process, the official added. Recently, the Odisha government conducted a virtual meeting with TANGEDCO officials and the government officials, and discussed the new course of action.
The power utility requested Odisha to extend a helping hand to seek clearance from the Forest Department. "Earlier this month, Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji along with TANGEDCO chairman Rajesh Lakhani met Union power minister RK Singh in Delhi. They urged him to take steps in this regard. Hope the process of commencing Chandrabilla coal block will be completed as early as possible," the official said.
The existing thermal power stations of 4,320 Mega Watt (MW) in North Chennai, Mettur and Tuticorin consume 62,000 tonnes of coal every day. Recently, the country faced a serious coal supply constraint, and several thermal stations, including the ones in Tamil Nadu, were on the verge of a shutdown.