Despite getting the Centre's clearances for the solar power plant that BHEL proposes to set up on its own land on the city outskirts, the project is yet to take off as the Madhya Pradesh government apparently wants to keep the site open for public and political events.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) plans to set up the plant on 50 acres of land at Jamboree Maidan on the outskirts of the state capital.
The state-owned power equipment major had sanctioned the Rs 54 crore solar power plants in November 2016 and the deadline set for its completion was March 31, 2017. It had got all permissions in place from the Centre one-and-a-half years back. However, the work is yet to begin in the absence of state government's permission.
Jamboree Maidan, 200 acres of land owned by BHEL, has so far played host to several government programmes attended by senior BJP leaders. This is where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath of office after the BJP won the assembly polls for the third consecutive time in December 2013. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also addressed a massive rally there.
Talking about the project, BHEL spokesperson Vinodanand Jha said, "There is 200 acres land known as Jamboree Maidan, located adjoining the BHEL plant. The land was left open for the expansion of the plant. A solar power unit is proposed to be set up on 50 acres land of the ground. But itcould not take off in the absence of district collector's permission."
"We have already taken approval from the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to set up the power plant so that BHEL can also get subsidy under the scheme for initiatives to promote non-conventional energy," he said.
Bhopal district collector Sudam Khade, however, told that since the site is ideal for holding public events, talks were being held with BHEL over their plant.
"BHEL had sought permission to set up a solar plant at Jamboree Maidan and we are talking to its management over it. The Jamboree Maidan land is owned by BHEL and so far it has been kept open. As the ground is located on the city outskirts, major programmes and public meetings are organised there," he said.
"Since Jamboree Maidan is on the outskirts, it is a suitable place for holding government programmes as it avoids traffic snarls in the city. Hence, the district administration is discussing with the BHEL management whether the plant should be set up there or not," he said.
Jha, on the other hand, said, "Bhopal collector has been asking BHEL to find some other site near Bhopal for the solar plant and said the state government would help the BHEL to get the alternative land."
"Although the solar-generated power can be transmitted through the grid even if the plant is set up at any other site, it would be better if the government allows us to install the plant on Jamboree Maidan as it is located near the factory," he said.
"As of now, we can't say how much power this plant would generate, but it would be at least 10 MW, which would be sufficient for the Bhopal's plant. This would save about Rs 15 crore annually for the BHEL. The plant would be run by the BHEL's current staff," he said.
Meanwhile, president of the MP unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), R D Tripathi said, "We will continue to press for the demand (to set up plant at Jamboree Maidan) until the government gives its nod. This is a question of our livelihood."
After getting approval from the Centre, BHEL had started preparing to lay the foundation for this plant in November 2016 and even began constructing walls around Jamboree Maidan, he said adding, "But the then Bhopal Collector had stopped that work."
"For the first time the state government is creating a hindrance in the Centre's work," he alleged.