Energy dept flags free land to green power developers

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BHOPAL: State energy department strongly objected to ‘free land policy’ floated by new and renewable energy department to attract mega investment in the field of solar, wind, and bio mass energy in the state.Senior IAS officer S R Mohanty-led new and renewable energy department had circulated a copy of a draft of land agreement to HoDs of all departments seeking their opinion before it was signed between government and investors.

Then principal secretary of energy department Mohammad Suleman had objected to provisions of providing land at ‘Re 1’ to power developers, said insiders in government. As per existing policy to set up a solar project, developer has just to submit a resource assessment report of any site in the state. It applies to wind, bio mass, where selected site is government land; the developer gets it for life of project –25 years as per proposed land agreement.

While many of departments are yet to react, energy department quickly objected to the proposal citing how some little known companies signed MoU with the government in investor meets in the past and walked away with good money they made after disposing of free land, sources said. 

Source: Times of India

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Some of those companies had come into existence days before investors meet, said a senior officer.

“There is no point in giving land free when they are already getting several other benefits,” he said. If approved by cabinet, change in land policy may affect around 60 power project developers who committed Rs 20,000 crore investment in the state in previous investors meet. Promise of free land tipped in the scale in favour of MP.

Last month, Rajasthan government had dispensed with land sops exposing Rs 3,000 crore investment to risk after considering a shady land disposal. Rajasthan government has done away with incentive it offered on land rate to solar developers overlooking investments worth Rs 3,000 crore there.In an order on August 4, the government said that the solar power developers will now need to pay the DLC (District Committee Level) rate without any relaxation for obtaining land.

Earlier, as per the previous Rajasthan solar policy 2011, land was allotted to developers at 10% of the DLC. The decision will immediately affect about 10 power developers who had won 355 MW under NSM Phase-II, Batch-I auction, taking into account the prevailing land rate of 10%.

These companies have already signed power purchase agreements with the Solar Energy Corporation of India between January and March this year and were awaiting land allotments.

MP had never attracted investment in last rounds of National Solar Mission (NSM) auction before the policy was floated. But the scene chanced and the state received 290 MW in latest NSM auctions after they were promised free land. Energy department objected to allotment of land to private developers.

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