MNRE defines lockdown period for relief to companies
The ministry of new and renewable energy has set March 25 to May 31 as the official dates for the lockdown and will grant project deadline extensions to cover the 68-day period and an additional 30 days to help developers overcome the disruption.
However, developers said they need more leeway to get projects back on track because some states have extended lockdowns for varying periods and labour is hard to come by.
The ministry said on April 17 that it would regard the lockdown as a force majeure and grant an extension for the lockdown period and an additional 30 days after the curbs were lifted to help companies resume activities. The blanket extension will apply to developers, engineering, procurement and construction companies and original equipment manufacturers.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand have extended the lockdown to July 31, while states in the northeast will continue with the restrictions by two weeks. Another concern is the availability of workers after many of them left for their villages after the lockdown was imposed.
“The impact of labour shortages is not uniform across the country and in some areas, labour mobilisation has become very difficult,” said Ritu Lal, senior VP at solar rooftop manufacturing company Amplus Solar. “Giving a deadline at this stage for renewable energy projects may not be suitable.”
Amplus has asked for a three-month extension from the day the lockdown is lifted in a state.
Experts said requests for extension were expected, with on-the-ground issues becoming apparent as the lockdown ends.
“Labour availability is a major challenge and some manufacturing units have also been severely impacted, creating a long domino-effect on project timelines,” Vinay Rustagi, MD of consulting firm Bridge to India, told ET.
Rustagi said he expects the ministry would be willing to consider further extensions if most companies continue to face problems.
Developers had earlier asked for a grace period of 60 to 90 days, and in some cases, six months, beyond their existing deadlines, once the lockdown was lifted.
In May, the then-cheapest solar project in India with a tariff rate of Rs. 2.44 a unit was scrapped by its developer ACME Solar, citing uncertainty following the Covid-19 pandemic. This price was beaten this week when Spain’s Solarpack won a 300 MW bid at Rs 2.36 per unit.