Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reliance Power's ambitious Dadri project in trouble

In a major blow to Anil Ambani, land acquisition for his Reliance Power’s much delayed gas based project in Dadri has been cancelled by the Allahabad High Court.

The court on Friday quashed the notification issued by the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 2004 for use of emergency powers to acquire land for the project side stepping the provision of inviting objections from the farmers.

A division bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sudhir Agarwal while issuing the order on Friday said that those farmers who had already given their land, for the 7,480 MW gas based thermal power project in Dadri to be built over 2,500 acres of land, can reclaim it back provided they return the compensation paid by the company.

The Rs 25,000 crore power project which was floated in 2004 has been lying moribund ever since due to several controversies surrounding it.

The 2,500 acres of land acquired for the project in Dadri was opposed by farmers led by the former Prime Minister Late VP Singh and Congress MP Raj Babbar claiming that they were not being given adequate compensation. Farmers claimed that the company was acquiring land way in excess of what was needed to set up the plant.

The 7,480 MW gas based thermal power plant of Anil Ambani, touted as one of the biggest in Asia, is also locked in a bitter battle with elder brother Mukesh Ambani over gas supply from his RIL’s KG basin. The gas supply to the Anil Ambani group for the Dadri plant was one of the original contentious issues between the two brothers which eventually led to their parting ways.

VP Singh and 47 others had challenged the allotment of land for the project before the Allahabad High Court.
The bench on Friday said that the company needs to take fresh consent of farmers for acquiring their land to go ahead with its project.

The Reliance ADA group said that land acquisition for the Dadri project has not been set aside and the state government has been directed by the High Court to follow certain procedures in the land acquisition process.

The ADA group said that the notification under Section 4 in relation to acquisition of land has infact been upheld by the court and they were hopeful that the state government would take requisite steps to complete the land acquisition formalities at the earliest.

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