Sasan’s Shadow: An Ultra Mega Power Project’s Dark Side

PWR_100116_Sasan_Splash   For all its record-breaking achievements for speed, innovation, and efficiency, the 3,960-MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project should have been a POWER Top Plant. But the unique project has been plagued by serious setbacks—including loss of life—that show how perilous the plant construction journey can be.

A decade ago, India was suffering a power crisis so dire that only 56% of households in the country with a population of 1.1 billion had connections to the grid. (Today, it’s 81%; see this issue’s “THE BIG PICTURE: Still in the Dark” in the Global Monitor department.) Where electricity was available, power cuts were routine, and Indian industry, so used to failings of the national grid, was forced to build its own “captive” generating plants. In 2005, gripped by the prospect of a widening chasm between demand and supply (at the time, demand exceeded supply by 12.1%), India’s central government set ambitious targets to add 100 GW of new generating capacity over the next 10 years to fuel its surging economy.

One of its most formidable ventures to boost this virtual doubling of generating capacity was the introduction of ultra mega power projects (UMPPs). Backed by the Ministry of Power and the Central Electricity Authority, the program consisted of two stages. First, it tasked the state-owned Power Finance Corp. (PFC) with setting up subsidiaries known as “special purpose vehicles” (SPVs) to procure land, water, and environmental clearances as well as power purchase agreements and to allocate coal blocks to fuel a dozen planned 4-GW UMPPs scattered around the country. Secondly, the government invited private companies to bid competitively to acquire an SPV based on the lowest “levelized” tariff to be charged for electricity.

In February 2006, the PFC established Sasan Power Ltd. to develop, own, and maintain a UMPP in Singrauli, a district in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. Historically, the region had been covered in forests so dense and wild that it was used as an open-air prison by the maharajas of the neighboring Rewa region. Since construction of a large dam in the 1950s that formed a sizable artificial lake, the Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar Lake Reservoir, and the discovery of rich coal deposits spread over 2,200 square kilometers of nearby land, Singrauli has been transformed into an energy hub. Owing to its proximity to an abundance of coal and water, today the region has an operating power capacity of more than 10 GW—mostly from coal-fired plants, and projects of up to 15 GW are under construction.

Reliance Power (then known as Reliance Energy Ltd.), the power-generating arm of conglomerate Reliance Group, ultimately acquired Sasan Power in August 2007 at a levelized tariff of 1.196 rupees/kWh (about $0.026/kWh at the time). That year, Reliance also snapped up SPVs and related assets for another UMPP: the 4-GW Krishnapatnam project planned for Andhra Pradesh state. And in 2009, it won rights to set up the Tilaiya UMPP in Jharkhand state.

Tilaiya was canceled last year, owing to inordinate delays in land acquisition. As Reliance told POWER, the Krishnapatnam UMPP is also in regulatory limbo. The project was to depend on imported coal from Indonesia, but following rule changes, the price of that coal has shot up. “The company has moved Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for [a tariff revision], citing ‘force majeure.’ The matter is subjudice,” the company said, declining to comment further.

Sasan, on the other hand, was fully commissioned by April 2015—a stunning 12 months ahead of schedule.

A Project of National Significance

Putting Sasan online on schedule was a matter of “national importance,” Reliance said, as it would benefit 350 million people in seven Indian states and territories: Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand.

Project construction officially kicked off in 2009. Reliance’s construction arm, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. (RINFRA), won the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract. RINFRA then appointed consultants such as Black & Veatch, HOK, Toshiba Power Systems, and Indian engineering firms Development Consultants Private Ltd. and STUP, among others, to design and develop the project.

The project’s major equipment was sourced from a number of entities (Table 1) from around the world.

PWR_100116_Sasan_Table1

Table 1. Sasan Ultra Mega Power Plant’s major equipment suppliers. Courtesy: Reliance Infrastructure

Today, the UMPP is a 3,960-MW supercritical coal-fired power plant consisting of six 660-MW units and two government-allocated coal mines located about 12.4 miles away from the power plant. The project and associated coal mines account for nearly 10,000 acres of land, of which nearly 7,000 acres is for the mining operation. That makes it one of the biggest integrated coal mine and power projects at a single location in the world.

Among the project’s most remarkable attributes is that it transports coal to the power plant from the coal mines via a 9-mile-long overland conveyor belt (Figure 1). Reliance noted that the single flight conveyor system “has a higher reliability, longer service life, [it is] compatible for rough terrain, and it requires lower human interface” than the alternatives.

PWR_100116_Sasan_Fig1

1. Coal belt. Coal from two mines leased from India’s government is transported to the 3,960-MW Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project via a 9-mile-long conveyor belt that crosses rough terrain and rivers. The overland conveyor includes head tail drives and two horizontal curves. Courtesy: Reliance Infrastructure

The plant also uniquely uses fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) cooling towers, and it has one of the largest FRP towers in the world, according to its manufacturer, Hamon Shriram Cottrell, a joint venture between Belgium’s Hamon Group and India’s Shriram Industrial Holdings.

By the time the project was deemed complete, it had achieved several “firsts” for an Indian power plant:

■ It was the first time in the country that boiler light-up for steam blowing was done with coal firing instead of oil.

■ It clocked the country’s fastest hydro test to identify leaks of the boiler.

It achieved commissioning of five 660-MW units within 12 months—the fastest in the country. Four units were synchronized to the grid in a record eight months’ time.

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Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

AVESH TIWARI@PatrikaNews | 7 June 2016

Have you heard of the Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt? This region at the cusp of Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is billed by many as India’s energy capital. What nobody talks of is how this belt is on the brink of a disaster that can match the Bhopal disaster.Another Bhopal? Sonbhadra-Singrauli has all the ingredients

The methyl isocyanate leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal led to India’s biggest industrial disaster on 2 December, 1984. Such was the scale of the leak that horror stories haven’t stop coming out three decades on. But have we learnt any lesson?

Doesn’t seem so if we look at Sonbhadra-Singrauli. The 40 square-kilometre area hosts some half-a-dozen power plants – both coal-fired and hydro-electric. Their combined capacity of about 21,000 megawatts (MW) cater to a large part of the country.

Now private groups such as Reliance, Lanco and Essar as well as state-owned utilities are set to add 20,000 MW more by setting up several projects in the next five years.

The belt also houses several other industries like an aluminum, chemical and carbon factories of the Birlas and a cement factory owned by the Jaypee Group.

But these impressive numbers tell just one side of the story.

FARMER TRAGEDIES
The Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt is also known for the plight of its farmers whose land has been ruined by mining and limestone.

This region is also home to over five lakh Adivasis. In fact, Sonbhadra is the only district of Uttar Pradesh where tribals are in a majority.

However, the fruits of industrial activity have barely reached these people with most of them find it difficult to make ends meet.

The region is traversed by eight small rivers. With the area accounting for nearly 16% of the total carbon emission in the country, it is of little surprise that all the river waters are completely polluted.

In other words, every inch of this land is prone to a catastrophe like Bhopal. The greed of industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats is not the only reason for this risk.

The media is equally to blame for this state of affairs. It will highlight Sonbhadra-Singrauli’s issues only after a disaster. Otherwise, it is happy to look the other way.

Enrico Fabian for The Washington Post via Getty Images
POISON FACTORY
The chloro chemicals division of Kanoria Chemicals & Industries Ltd, located at Renukoot, produces some of the most dangerous substances for industrial use. It was acquired by the Aditya Birla group in 2011 at a cost of Rs 830 crore.

It is estimated that the waste produced by this factory kills 40-50 people every year on average. Most of this waste is released directly into the Rihand dam. And the effect is telling on the surrounding population.

Thousands of residents in hundreds of villages around the Rihand Dam have been completely or partially crippled.

“Waste from the Kanoria Chemicals factory at Renukoot kills 40-50 people every year on an average”
In December 2011, 20 people of the Kamari Dand village in Sonbhadra district lost their lives after using the water from the Rihand Dam. Thousands of cattle had also met with the same fate.

Investigations proved that the chemicals released from the Kanoria Chemicals Factory had poisoned the water. Yet, the issue did not attract enough media attention.

Earlier, a gas leak from the Kanoria plant had killed five people in January 2005. The accident reportedly occurred because of the negligence of company officials.

Villages after village in Sonbhadra are falling prey to the fatal disease of Fluorosis, a chronic condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine compounds.

There is hardly a person in villages like Padwa Kodawari and Kusumha, who has not been afflicted with some of kind of physical deformity due to this disease.

HAZARD CALLED MERCURY
The power plants of Sonbhadra-Singrauli emit 1.5 tonnes of fly ash every year. This fly ash is composed of mercury that is extremely harmful to the human body. Traces of mercury have been found in the samples of human hair, blood and even crops of this region.

The locals have no option but to live with the impact of this pollution. The sun here is paled with the dust coming out of towering chimneys. A blanket of haze engulfs the air as soon as the evening sets in.

The pollution has not even spared the still-to-be-born babies. The death of children during the pre-pregnancy period has become a regular occurrence.

Yet, the state-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without any environmental clearance. The Central Pollution Control Board has ordered a close down stating they are ‘too dangerous.’

“State-run Obra and Anpara power plants are operating without environmental clearance”
However, nobody seems baffled with such blatant flouting of norms. The seeds of a Bhopal-like tragedy are being sown, not only in Sonbhadra-Singrauli belt but in every corner of the country.

The state as well as the Union Government is avoiding accountability in the name of development. For now, the Sonbhadra-Singrauli region is nothing more than a hen laying golden eggs for them.

While one Warren Anderson may have gotten away, there are many more in the making.

http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/sonbhadra-singrauli-belt-is-called-india-s-power-capital-but-may-be-headed-for-a-disaster-1465284694.html

रिलायंस पॉवर ने दी पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी को धमकी , 434 करोड़ रुपये दो नहीं तो 300 मेगावाट बिजली नहीं देंगे

घुमंतू संवाददाता | जबलपुर

सासन पावर ने एमपीपीएमसीएल को थमाया नोटिस

रिलायंस ने मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी (एमपीपीएमसीएल) को धमकी दी है कि – यदि उसने 434 करोड़ रुपए का जल्द भुगतान नहीं किया तो वह उसकी निर्धारित सप्लाई तीन सौ मेगावाट घटा देगा। रिलायंस के सासन पावर ने इस बाबत अपने सबसे बड़े प्रोक्यूरर एमपीपीएमसीएल को नोटिस भी भेजा है। एमपीपीएमसीएल के प्रबंध संचालक संजय शुक्ला ने इसकी पुष्टि करते हुए कहा है कि – सासन पावर का यह नोटिस दबाव की राजनीति के सिवाय कुछ नहीं है, जबकि उसे ऐसा करने का अधिकार नहीं है।

सीईआरसी में जाने की तैयारी
सासन पावर का बिजली सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस मिलते ही मप्र पॉवर मैनेजमेंट कंपनी के अफसर सीईआरसी (सेन्ट्रल इलेक्ट्रिसिटी रेग्युलरटी कमीशन) जाने की तैयारी में जुट गए हैं। दैनिक भास्कर की जब इस मुद्दे पर एमडी संजय शुक्ला से बात हुई तब वे दिल्ली में ही थे। उन्होंने कहा कि – चिंता की कोई बात नहीं है। इस नोटिस को लेकर एमपीपीएमसीएल सीईआरसी के पास जा रही है।

दबाव की राजनीति है यह
मप्र विद्युत अभियंता संघ के महासचिव वी.के.एस. परिहार इसे दबाव की राजनीति बताते हैं। वह कहते हैं कि पहले तो सासन पॉवर ने सस्ती बिजली देने के नाम पर राज्यों से करार किया और इसके नाम पर सैकडा़ें़ करोड़ रुपए के प्रत्यक्ष/अप्रत्यक्ष लाभ मप्र सरकार से हासिल किए। अब यही सस्ती बिजली खुले बाजार में बेच कर मुनाफा कमाने का वह रास्ता खोज रहा है। ऐसा किया जा सके इसीलिए एमपीपीएमसीएल को उसके हिस्से की 1480 मेगावाट बिजली में से 300 मेगावाट की सप्लाई घटाने का नोटिस दिया है।

एससी में जा चुके हैं
ऑल इंडिया पॉवर इंजीनियर्स फेडरेशन के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष शैलेन्द्र दुबे कहते हैं कि – एआईपीईएफ व एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित आधा दर्जन से अधिक प्रोक्यूरर सासन पावर की सीओडी (कॉमर्शियल ऑपरेशन डेट) 31 मार्च 2013 मान्य किये जाने के एप्टेल के फैसले के खिलाफ सुप्रीम कोर्ट में याचिका दाखिल कर चुके हैं। इसलिए जब तक वहां इस पर अंतिम फैसला नहीं हो जाता, एमपीपीएमसीएल सहित बाकी प्रोक्यूरर क्यों सीओडी क्लेम अमाउंट का भुगतान करेंगे।

इसलिए नहीं है अधिकार
एमडी संजय शुक्ला कहते हैं कि सीओडी क्लेम के मुद्दे पर एप्टेल के फैसले के बाद सासन पावर द्वारा बकाया राशि चुकाने बाबत केवल एक पत्र भेजा गया है। बकाया राशि का उसने कोई बिल नहीं भेजा है। बिना बिल केवल पत्र के आधार पर 354 करोड़ रुपए का बकाया और उस पर 80 करोड़ के ब्याज का कैसे भुगतान किया जा सकता है। बकौल श्री शुक्ला- जब तक रिलायंस का सासन यूएमपीपी अपना गणनात्मक बिल नहीं देगा, हम क्लियरीफिकेशन कैसे कर सकेंगे?
http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/?id=1009483&boxid=5312172483&view=text&editioncode=180&pagedate=05/31/2016&pageno=1&map=map&ch=mpcg

New Report released on Sasan Project

Sasan Report Final

New Report released on Sasan Project, capturing the social and environmental issues related to the project. 

The report looks into

  • Land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation process;
  • Diversion of irrigated agricultural land for power plant, ashpond and for mining overdumping;
  • Destruction of public facilities;
  • Multiple displacements;
  • Compensation for land acquisition;
  • Rehabilitation planning done without any consultation with affected community with complete disregard to the socio – economic condition of affected community;
  • Employment for people who have lost their livelihood: a tale of false promises;
  • Labour Rights concerns in the area;
  • High handedness of the company and local administration;
  • No consideration for Indigenous peoples Rights;
  • Impact of coal mining from the blocks allotted to Reliance Power Limited, on people;
  • Hazards of overburden dump from the mountaintop coal mining; and
  • Change in usage and purpose of Rihand Dam.

The Report: Brief Report Sasan Project