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CAG slams ministry for favouring Reliance firm

The CAG has pulled up the environment ministry for extending ‘undue favours’ to Reliance Power-owned Sasan Power Limited in Madhya Pradesh and highlighted ‘deficiencies’ in permitting diversion of forest land in the State. SPL, a special purpose vehicle created for development of Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project, was a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Finance Corporation (PFC) but in August 2007 it was transferred to Reliance Power Limited. In its report on Compensatory Afforestation in India, tabled in Parliament, the government auditor said that SPL, according to guidelines and clarifications for diversion of forest lands for non-forest purpose under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, had to provide equivalent area of 1384.96 hectare of non-forest land for the compensatory afforestation.

It noted state chief  secretary issued a certificate of non-availability of non-forest land in Sidhi district instead of a certificate of non-availability of non-forest land for the entire state. ‘Based on this ineligible certificate issued by the chief secretary, the ministry exempted Sasan Power Limited from providing non-forest land of 1384.96 hectare in case of Ultra Mega Power Project and for the coal mining project in violation of the act,’ the CAG said.

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