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Transmission corridors’ progress faces hurdles

The power ministry has asked states to lay transmission lines through cables along highways

The Centre’s move to fast-track development of transmission corridors across the country faces major hurdles on account of delays in allotment of right of way (RoW) by states and higher compensation demand by landowners, among others. Some states also seek the power to divert forest land for transmission projects.

In order to avoid delay and cost over-run, Gujarat suggested that the central and state transmission utilities be allowed to implement transmission system under regular tariff mechanism instead of mandatory competitive bidding process.

However, during their recent interaction with the Union power ministry, some other states — Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam – preferred the competitive bidding route.

The ministry has asked states to consider laying of transmission lines through cables by the side of national highways to avoid RoW.

A power ministry official said, “Transmission lines pass through hundreds of kilometres and require RoW. The CEA (Central Electricity Authority) had prepared a perspective transmission plan for 2014-2034, based on peak load growth of 284 Gw and generation capacity of 469 Gw, by the end of the 13th Plan. Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam have been asked to help in resolving RoW issues.

The transmission corridors as far as possible must be arranged by the side of the highways to minimise the problem of RoW.”

The power ministry official said the states also raised the issue of compensation. According to the recent guidelines by the power ministry, compensation for tower base area will be provided at the rate of 85 per cent of land value (as determined by the district magistrate or any other authority based on circle rate/guidelines value/stamp duty rates). Fifteen per cent of the land value will be made towards corridor payment. The ministry has said it’s for states to consider alternative modes of compensation by the corporation or municipality concerned.

The official cited above said states, especially Karnataka, argued the rates for compensation prescribed in the guidelines were not practicable and would vary according to the location of the line. Land owners near cities might not agree to the 15 per cent RoW compensation.

The official said states were told to frame their own rules to give higher compensation. However, this could increase the overall cost of transmission, which might be considered by the regulatory commissions while fixing the tariff.

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