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Thermal power projects with investments worth over Rs 2.5 lakh crore facing stress

   February 10, 2019        117        Jaideep Shenoy

Investments worth over Rs 2,50,000 crore in thermal sector projects (based on domestic coal, imported coal and gas) are facing stress, and immediate remedial measures need to be undertaken to ensure that they are revived in a time-bound manner, noted a recent ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton joint study.

The study also noted that the country’s power sector has been one of the highly stressed sectors in recent times, with loans worth approximately Rs 1,00,000 crore having turned bad or been recast.

“As per the recent estimates, around 66,000 MW capacity is facing various degrees of financial stress, including 54,800 MW of coal-based power, 6,830 MW of gas-based power and 4,570 MW of hydropower with the lenders having an exposure of around Rs 3,00,000 crore to these assets, which is alarming, to say the least,” noted the ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton study titled, ‘Stressed assets in the Indian thermal power sector.’

“Non-availability of regular fuel supply arrangements, lack of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), inability of promoters to invest equity and working capital, and regulatory and contractual issues are some of the major challenges faced by thermal power projects,” according to the study.

The report cited that there is no universal solution for these ailing power assets and a mixed multi-pronged strategy needs to be adopted instead of a straight jacketed approach.

“This has to be done as there are not enough takers for all of these stressed assets and any unthoughtful action may result in huge credit recovery losses for the banks/FIs (financial institutions),” it added.

While the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has already been amended four times since its enactment in 2016, the government is willing to amend it to make it stronger and effective. “This is considered imperative to provide an effective solution to thermal power projects.”

Further, an effective resolution in a time-bound manner is warranted by improving the macro environment governing the power sector, said the report.

This would involve augmenting coal supplies under the Scheme for Harnessing and Allocating Koyala (coal) Transparently in India (SHAKTI) and medium-term/short-term power procurement by DISCOMs to alleviate the sub-optimal plant load factors (PLFs), it stated.

It would also require improvement in operations besides National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)/NTPC led resolutions among others, further said the ASSOCHAM-Grant Thornton report.

TNN

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