SECI project winners buying expensive land as state stays reluctant on leasing for central projects
The state government had earlier said the matter would be resolved once its land policy on renewable energy projects was finalised.
Wind developers have begun acquiring more expensive private land in Gujarat for central government projects as the state continues to go slow on leasing out land to them.
Over the past several months, Gujarat has been giving preference to projects bid out by the state-run discom GUVNL and being reluctant to lease out revenue land to the winners of auctions conducted by central agencies.
Since Gujarat is one of the best wind-producing states, half of the 7,000MW of wind projects auctioned last year by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a nodal agency under the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE), are expected to come up there.
The developers are also finding it difficult to get all the private land they need for their projects at one spot and are distributing the projects far and wide. Each megawatt of a wind project takes about 0.75 acre. “We have identified about 50 locations for projects we’ve won where we will buy private land. Revenue land in one location costs about Rs 10 lakh, while private land costs five times as much,” a developer, who had won a recent SECI auction, said on the condition of anonymity. “Private landowners know that we are facing this issue in Gujarat. So, they are raising the prices.”
Another developer said: “We have begun the process of talking to our contractors about acquiring private land.”
The state government had earlier said the matter would be resolved once its land policy on renewable energy projects was finalised. The policy, which was released last week, has provided clarity on how future projects should be built, saying that they should all be constructed at designated wind, solar or wind-solar hybrid parks, and not at randomly leased sites as before. But there has been no change on-ground so far, and the developers are worried about failing to meet their deadlines.
“MNRE should tell us which are the most suitable areas (within the parks), and we’ll agree to that,” said a senior Gujarat government functionary dealing with the issue.
Developers who had managed to get government land for part of their projects and begun construction, are unsure whether they will get the remaining land or will be forced to relocate the entire project to another spot.
“Developers who have built part of their projects in Gujarat, can always take the rest to somewhere else in the country. The ministry should be able to take care of these problems. This isn’t our responsibility. We were not consulted when SECI held its auctions,” the official said.
Instead, the official was worried about the responsibility of providing transmission facilities also falling on the state. “Who will build the transmission lines for the SECI projects? That again will be a problem. Developers’ demands won’t end with land.”
Another developer said that since SECI projects are connected to the Central Transmission Utility (CTU), the state will face no problem. “It is the responsibility of the developer to get the transmission from Power GridNSE 0.17 % (PGCIL),” he said.