Interview: Vijay Chhibber

Vijay Chhibber,
Director General at Electric Power Transmission Association (EPTA)
 

“Rs 5,000 Cr Worth of Transmission Projects Currently Delayed Due to ROW Issues”

The construction and commissioning of transmission projects worth more than Rs 5,000 crore are currently delayed due to ROW issues. Linear projects like transmission have little leeway in negotiating ROW, forest, wildlife, defence, airport, coastal zone etc. and are therefore heavily dependent on active government support. The tight execution timelines further amplify this challenge and complexity. Unavailability of ROW clearances is consequently affecting the construction schedule of these critical transmission projects and will impact project completion timelines, shares Vijay Chhibber, Director General of Electric Power Transmission Association (EPTA), in an exclusive conversation with Manu Tayal, Associate Editor, Energetica India. Chhibber also discussed about the significance of power transmission sector in India’s road towards $5 trillion economy, impact of Covid-19 on upcoming projects, challenges faced by private players, expectation from Govt etc.

“How significant is the role of power transmission sector in contributing towards India’s USD 5 trillion economy dream?”

Availability of clean and reliable electricity is a primary requisite for any modern economy. The power transmission sector is an essential pre-requisite for linking the expanding power generation capacities with the consumers and end users. The power transmission sector plays a key role as access to reliable and affordable electricity will be key to achieve India’s $5 trillion economy target. Private sector participation in the power transmission sector is another success story that has brought down tariffs by 40 percent and ensured timely completion of projects. For a robust energy ecosystem, major reforms are required in the distribution sector. Any further reforms upstream (in generation) will not yield any benefit unless the last mile is fixed. Additionally, it is necessary to boost infrastructure financing and encourage regional collaboration in power sharing.

“What impact has Covid-19 had on the upcoming GEC Projects in Gujarat and what is the current status of the projects?”

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone brutally and transmission projects under development are not an exception. The upcoming GEC Projects in Gujarat have already lost 5 months and more due to the COVID-19 imposed lockdown restrictions. Over and above this there has been inordinate delay in grant of ROW (Right of Way) clearances which is affecting the construction schedules of all the transmission projects under development by private as well as public sector developers in the region. Therefore, it is imperative that the construction and commissioning of these projects is fast-tracked, and pro-active administrative support extended to address the issues being faced and to make up for the time lost so as to ensure these projects are completed with minimum additional delays.

“Are there any bottlenecks that private players are facing for laying down transmission lines?”

The construction and commissioning of transmission projects worth more than Rs 5,000 crore are currently delayed due to ROW issues. Linear projects like transmission have little leeway in negotiating ROW, forest, wildlife, defence, airport, coastal zone etc. and are therefore heavily dependent on active government support. The tight execution timelines further amplify this challenge and complexity. Unavailability of ROW clearances is consequently affecting the construction schedule of these critical transmission projects and will impact project completion timelines. Land compensation in the districts of Gujarat is required to be assessed, ascertained, and paid to the rightful owners in accordance with the Government of Gujarat guidelines. However, strong reservations are being faced from the landowners, pertaining to the compensation payable as assessed by the State Government for the transmission towers and Right of Way Corridor.

“How has the support from government and industry bodies been? What are your expectations?”

In view of the importance of these transmission projects for RE evacuation from Bhuj, Lakadia, Banaskantha, Vadodara & Dwarka areas, the State Government should assign a suitably senior and empowered official as a Nodal Officer to function as a single point interface between transmission developers, concerned District Administrations and other relevant Government offices to monitor and expedite necessary administrative support to ensure construction work can be taken up without hindrance. We also seek support in implementation of Government of Gujarat guidelines pertaining to compensation payable for loss to the landowner for establishment of transmission tower (foundation) and Right of Way Corridor (Stringing).

“What is the status of RoW clearances? Please Explain.”

Developers are facing challenges in getting the ROW clearance, especially in the key districts of Kutch, Surendernagar, and Morbi. Unavailability of ROW clearances is consequently affecting the construction schedule of these critical transmission projects and will impact project completion timelines. Therefore, a timely government intervention for securing RoW resolution is necessary so that transmission projects for the evacuation of RE power in Gujarat can resume development at the earliest.

Interview 17/02/2021 by Manu Tayal
 
 
 
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