Coal row fallout: Inspector raj returns
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Rattled by the din over alleged irregularities in allocation of coal blocks, the government is bringing back 'inspector raj' in the power sector.
Proposed norms envisage 'independent engineers' being stationed at each upcoming thermal project for round-the-clock monitoring of operations, something that private developers are calling excessively "intrusive" and "unworkable".
Private power project developers led by Tata Power and Reliance Power today met officials from the Prime Minister's Office on this, among other issues.
The proposal, part of a contentious bidding regime being ushered into the power sector, is in the revised Standard Bidding Documents (SBDs) for power projects floated by Power Ministry in partnership with the Planning Commission.
The provision in the SBD stipulates the appointment of an independent engineer by the state electricity board to oversee operations of the plant, including efficiency in the usage of coal, to decide whether the electricity tariff being charged by the plant is "fair".
The engineer will also have the mandate to review drawings and documents, inspect and monitor the construction and completion of the project.
"Having an external entity in the form of an 'independent engineer' dictating (or sitting in judgment) in these circumstances for all kinds and forms of issues presents an impossible situation that is bound to raise severe conflicts," an official from the State Bank of India's Project Finance and Leasing unit said.
The industry, through its lobby group Association of Power Producers (APP), which represents an upcoming project portfolio of around 1,20,000 MW and has Tata Power, Reliance Power, Essar, Jindal Power and Adani among its members, along with industry chambers FICCI, CII and Assocham, have already voiced their opposition to the new bidding format, which includes this inspector regime.
The APP met officials in the PMO on the issue today. Bankers, led by SBI along with ICICI, Punjab National Bank and IDFC, have also registered their negative views about the new format.
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