Tatas caught up in Palghar delay row

Vol 4, PW 18 (11 Oct 00) Midstream & Downstream

Senior executives at the Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply suspect that the Tata group is trying to scuttle the company's proposed 495-MW power plant at Palghar, near Mumbai.

The local state government has already granted formal approval for the project. But the Maharashtra State Electricity Board shows no sign of putting its seal of approval on the planned project - despite Maharashtra's daily power shortage of 1,500-MW.

"We will clear the project in due course," chairman Yeshwant Bhave tells a correspondent, "We don't want to talk about the issues holding it up, but there is no time frame for clearance". A source at BSES suggests Bhave's relaxed attitude is the result of "intense lobbying" by the Tatas against the project.

"If the power station comes up we will be almost self-sufficient and will not need to buy from the Tatas," he said. BSES currently generates 500-MW power daily, while its daily requirement is about 1,200-MW.

The balance is bought from the Tatas at Rs3.05 per kWh. Power generated by BSES costs Rs2.30.

"The Tatas use furnace oil which is costly," he adds, "We use coal." On 21st September the Palghar controversy figured in a meeting chaired by state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. Local newspapers report that the Tatas are threatening to cut off power supplies to BSES if the company is not paid standby charges.