Land Grab Projects?


, by Frontline

An independent study says some 250 thermal power projects that have got clearances may be meant just to grab land and water resources.

THERE have been a growing number of headlines that speak of an energy crisis and the energy deficit in India in the last few years. The disparities in the demand-supply scenario, the increasing prospects of disruptions in the global supply of fuel and the consequent results of higher import bills, the problems of losses during transmission and distribution and a host of other issues have been debated.

The public sector monopoly over this sector has been blamed for the energy crisis. So, after liberalisation, when the sector was thrown open to private investors, it was generally considered to be a profitable business opportunity. In fact, more than 250 companies have applied for and received environmental clearances to set up thermal power projects in the coming years. In the generally accepted analysis of the energy situation, this seems to be a good thing. But there is another side to the story.

For quite some time there has been talk of a vast number of thermal power projects coming up all over the country, but apart from certain regions, such as the Konkan (Frontline, February 11), where details were available, there was no central database that provided information on the rest. Prayas Energy Group, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that works on the theoretical, conceptual and policy issues in the energy sector, was curious about the widespread talk about big projects and decided to find out more. (It is worth noting that Prayas was instrumental in the analysis of the infamous power purchase agreement of the Dabhol Power Company.)

Read more on Frontline and Dowload Prayas Energy Group’s Report