State-run National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Ltd on Saturday commenced work on the first phase of the 4,000 megawatt super thermal power plant in Karnataka's Bijapur district.
Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Saturday laid the foundation stone for the first phase of the Rs.15,166-crore ($2.7 billion) project at Kudgi, about 550 km from Bangalore. The project that will come up on a 3000 acre area comprises three units of 800 mw each.
Union Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and a host of dignitaries were also present on the occasion on a hot summer day.
The NTPC will take up the remaining two units in the second phase after commissioning the first unit by 2016.
"The NTPC's first super thermal project in Karnataka is aimed at meeting the growing energy demand in the four southern states proportionately. This is among the nine mega power projects the central government had taken up for executing in the 11th and 12th five-year plan periods," Shinde said after the ground-breaking ceremony.
Being the host state, Karnataka will get 50 percent of the power generated at the plant with the balance 50 percent distributed among Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
NTPC has floated global tenders to procure machinery for the nine projects, attracting bids from British, French, Korean and Japanese firms, which plan to set up manufactures basis in India to reduce the machinery cost.
"The projects will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and reduce the energy deficit majority of the states face across the country due to shortage from other sources and increasing demand by a growing economy," Mr Shinde said in his address.
Union Power secretary P. Umashankar said about 76,000 mw would be added and 100,000 km of new transmission lines would be laid during the next three years to carry the power generated by the state-run plants on the national grid.
"When commissioned, the Kudgi thermal power plant will add 7,400 mw of power to the state grid, which already carries about 5,000 mw of power from the state-run Raichur and Bellary thermal plants in the northern districts of the state," Mr Umashankar said.
NTPC chairman and managing director Arup Roy Choudhury said the first phase of the project would require 13 million tonnes of coal per annum and 162 cusecs of water.
"The coal will be brought to the plant site by rail-road, as the village (Kudgi), 5km from the project site, has a rail link and water will be sourced from the Almatti reservoir across the downstream of the Krishna river," Mr Choudhury pointed out.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests gave environmental clearance for the first phase of the project in January.
The NTPC will use super critical boilers and latest equipment from Doosan of Korea and Toshibha of Japan, which have agreed to set up their manufacturing plants in the country to produce the machinery.