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NTPC eyes SJVN for green profile, HP worried

Archana Phull/SNS | Shimla |

The move by NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) Ltd to buy the Central government’s stake in Shimla based hydro power producer, SJVN (Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam) Ltd is meeting opposition from Himachal Pradesh government.

The state government has an equity share of 25.5 per cent in SJVN and is apprehending loss of ‘say’ if the NTPC’s proposal matures. There is much anxiety in the Shimla based SJVN, with around 1,700 employees on its rolls uncomfortable over the new proposition as it would reduce them to subsidiary staff of a bigger company.

NTPC is India’s biggest electricity producer (mainly from coal and gas).

Profit making SJVN Ltd with total market capital of over Rs. 10,000 Crore, with 64.4 per cent share of Government of India, primarily deals in hydro power generation.

Earlier named as Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation (NJPC), it is credited with commissioning the country’s biggest Nathpa Jhakri Power Project in HR over a decade back. Presently, it has two hydro power projects in HP, the other one being 412 MW Rampur hydro electric project.

The SJVN also operates a 47.6 megawatt wind-power plant in Maharashtra and plans to build a 900 megawatt hydro-power project in Nepal, besides dealing with power generation in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh in India and Bhutan.

Confirming  a communique in this regard from GoI, MPP and Power minister in HP, Sujan Singh Pathania said, “We are opposed to this as it will dilute the objective of the equity share in this state based PSU.” He said if SJVN is taken over by NTPC, the state government will not have the same say and may be reduced to just 1 per cent in the big company.

In March this year, the Delhi based NTPC sent a letter to the Finance ministry with a proposal to buy central government’s 64.4 per cent share in the hydro-power generator. Urging to treat the letter as an Expression of Interest for acquisition of SJVN, the NTPC sought in principle approval to start the process.

“NTPC as a part of its growth strategy, the NTPC is continuously endeavouring to balance its generation portfolio. The total installed capacity of NTPC is 48,143 MW, including 40,568 MW from thermal (coal and gas based). For a diversified fuel mix, the NTPC endeavours to have non-fossil fuel based generation capacity of nearly 30 per cent in its portfolio,”said the letter.   

“In this connection, the SJVN Ltd, a Mini Ratna, Central Public Sector Unit (CPSU) having 1912 MW of hydro generation capacity and under construction hydro power projects can be considered or acquisition. The step may also be synergic to Government of India for unlocking its investment in SJVN Ltd,”it said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the hydroelectric power is considered as green energy.