By Rahul Kamat
The first two weeks of the new year witnessed some positive actions in the infrastructure space. And to everyone's surprise, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has led the way.
M Veerappa Moily has swung into action after taking additional charge of MoEF apart from his petroleum and natural gas portfolio. After his appointment, the ministry, which has always been blamed for its time-consuming decisions, has cleared four major infrastructure projects, giving a perfect new year gift to the otherwise ailing industry.
The projects that are cleared include: Central Coalfields Ltd’s 1.90 mtpa mining project in Jharkhand and Bhakra underground mining project; Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd’s (VISL) international container transshipment terminal in Kerala; and Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s (TNEB) 1,320 MW thermal power plant at Ennore SEZ, which was revised down from 1,600 MW.
All these projects were announced between 2000 and 2010, but were lying in a limbo for a long time. With the environment clearance (EC), these projects can see light of the day.
On 3 December 2013, Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd had come out with two request for qualifications (RFQ). One for the development of Vizhinjam International deepwater multipurpose seaport through public-private partnership (PPP), and the other one for the development of breakwater and associated berths under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
“The authority will hold pre-application conference on 22 January and will announce the shortlisted players by 12 February,” said Lazar Maliakal, Project Manager, VISL. He added that the cost of the project has been revised from Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 4,800 crore.
VISL will hold a pre-application conference on 21 January and will announce the shortlisted players after 14 days.
As far as TNEB's 1,320 MW project is concerned, the project will be awarded in a months time. The Rs 9,180 crore project has already received bids from four companies including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) and three other Chinese companies. However, TNEB officials are still evaluating the technical bids.
The situation is little different for Kathara OPC in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Though Central Coalfields has obtained EC grant for the mining operation, the mining operations at Kathra was started much before the enactment of environment in India. KK Mishra, GM (Kathara), Central Coalfields Ltd, told Infrastructure Today, “We are operating this mine with the consent of State Pollution Control Board, and the just for the procedural purpose, we have applied for EC.”