It has not even been two months since the government amended the power sector guidelines for special economic zones (SEZs) enabling stand alone power plants to qualify as SEZs and be eligible for tax sops. It seems that this move greatly helped Adani. The government has approved the Rs 14,000-crore special economic zone (SEZ) project of Adani Power in Jharkhand, which will export entire power generated to Bangladesh, an official said. The project was approved by the highest decision-making body on SEZ - Board of Approval - chaired by the commerce secretary, in its meeting on 25 February, the government official said.
Adani Power (Jharkhand) Ltd has sought approval for setting up of sector specific SEZ for power at villages - Motia, Mali, Gaighat and adjacent villages in Godda district, Jharkhand over an area of 425 hectares. It has received formal approval for the land in possession of 222.68-hectare area and in principle approval for remaining 202.32 hectares. It has not even been two months since the government amended the power sector guidelines for special economic zones (SEZs) enabling standalone power plants to qualify as SEZs and be eligible for tax sops. It seems that this move greatly helped Adani.
“Adani Power’s renewed request for a sector-specific SEZ for power in Jharkhand got the approval from the Board of Approval (BoA) for SEZs last week as the new power guidelines now allow such zones provided they are dedicated to exports,” a government official told BusinessLine. In January this year, the BoA approved the Commerce Ministry’s proposal of amending the existing power guidelines for SEZs to allow standalone power plants dedicated to exports to qualify as an SEZ in line with the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Power.
“Further, there will be no option of selling excess power in the Domestic Tariff Area as the entire power has to be exported or consumed within the SEZ,” the Ministry had said in its earlier submission to the BoA.
The company has already signed a power purchase agreement for the supply of 100 per cent power generated from this plant to Bangladesh. This could be a huge dent in the fight of tribal and Adivasi residents of Jharkhand who have been protesting the Adani project in their regions since years. “It is clear from the inquiry that several laws have been grossly violated by this project till now. The Adani project is yet another example of government prioritising corporate interests at the cost of blatant exploitation of people and their resources. It is not surprising that most of the documents related to the acquisition for this project are not available on the district administration’s website, as mandated by the act,” the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha had said as reported by SabrangIndia.
According to the acquisition act, consent of at least 80 per cent of affected families and permission of the concerned Gram Sabhas are required for acquisition of land for private projects. But most of the Adivasi and several non-Adivasi landowners have opposed the project from the beginning. In 2016 and 2017, public hearings for social impact assessment (SIA) and environment impact assessment (EIA) were organised. Several landowners who were opposed to the plant were not allowed by Adani functionaries and local administration to participate in the hearings. The affected villagers also claim that people of non-affected areas were made to sit in the hearings. In one of these meetings, when affected families had protested against not being allowed to express their views, the police had misbehaved with several women and lathi-charged at them.
The project in Jharkhand has been marred by scandals ever since its inception right from the forceful acquisition of land, a severe violation of processes set by land acquisition act 2013, bulldozing standing crops of farmers, lying to people about the potential benefits, intimidating affected people with police brutalities, lawsuits and so on.
Sabrang India, March 5, 2019