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Rate-based competitive bids for four major power transmission projects will be placed shortly. This is the first tranche to come up after Power Minister Piyush Goyal said the government would ramp up transmission capacity to fulfill its promise of "24X7 power for all".
The cumulative cost of these four projects was Rs 4,000 crore, said industry executives. Among the qualified bidders are private companies CLP India, Essel Infraprojects, Sterlite Grid, Tata Projects, L&T Infra, Jindal Power, Adani Power, Kalptaru Power Transmission and European company Isolux Corsan Power Concessions. State-owned transmission giant Power Grid Corporation has also qualified for all four.
Power Finance Corporation has called bids for three projects, the transmission project for the Sipat thermal power project in Chhattisgarh and the additional system strengthening scheme for the Chhattisgarh IPPs Part A and Part B. The bid submission date is June 30.
The fourth project is the transmission system for the Maheshwaram 765/400 kV pooling substation in Hyderabad called by the Rural Electrification Corporation and the last date for submission of bids is July 3.
"The infrastructure sector has been devoid of investment for the past year. This is the second major investment call by private players in the power sector after bidding for two ultra mega power projects failed last year," said a senior executive with a power company.
Goyal in an interaction with Business Standard in May had said the transmission sector was the next sunrise industry. "In the next 6-12 months, at least Rs 1 lakh crore of transmission capacity will be bid out. There is huge potential coming in for the private sector. And I see global players coming to India. It is a great annuity business," Goyal had said in an interview.
In the past three years, however, even auctioned projects have been awarded to Power Grid. In a closed-door interaction with the minister last month, private companies expressed concern over "aggressive bids by Power Grid to win projects even as it was battling with delays," said a source.
"The private companies requested the government to provide a level playing field. Despite their participation, big-ticket projects had gone to Power Grid and most of them are likely move out of the sector," the source added.
Power transmission was opened up for the private sector in 2010 by awarding the western regional system strengthening project to Reliance Infra and the east-north interconnection line to Sterlite Energy. Power Grid, however, still has a 99 per cent market share and close to 48 per cent in terms of nominated projects, government data shows.
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