A K Samantaray, T K Mukherjee
India is planning to supplement 100,000 MW of electricity for increasing its installed capacity to 300,000 MW by year 2017. Out of which, 59,000 MW will be generated from pit-head, coal-based thermal power stations. About 26,380 Mt of geological coal reserve has been identified in 15 coal basins of India for installation of pit-head, coal-based thermal power stations (TPS) to generate the required amount of power.Multi-spectral satellite data along with other collateral data on topography, geology, hydrology and meteorology were used to generate thematic information such as land use/cover, geomorphology, drainage pattern, watershed and infrastructure in the area. The thematic information was integrated through Geographic Information System (GIS) for selecting the TPS sites. Due consideration was given to the requirement of land, water and coal as these are proportional to the capacity of the TPS.Selection of sites for TPS was based on four primary criteria, namely land,water, fuel (coal) and environment, and two secondary criteria, namely R&R (resettlement & rehabilitation) and accessibility to the site. Ranking or ‘order of priority’ was done based on the above criteria to select the best site in each coal basin, i.e., least socio-economic, environmental and infrastructural development costs and best return in power generation. The present study demonstrates the use of geospatial information in selecting potential sites for TPS and in evolving a site-suitability index (SSI) in order to rank these sites.Ranking of the sites was based on the primary and secondary criteria used for site selection. For each of the primary and secondary criteria 20 and 10 weight-points, respectively, were given which sums up to a total of 100 weight-points. Each criterion was further divided into a number of sub-criteria with equal weight-points. Available standards and guidelines of Govt. of India were taken into account while fixing the sub-criteria. The SSI for each selected site was arrived at based on weight-points scored for all the six criteria. Potential sites were ranked according to the SSI. The SSI so designed and tested, has been proved to be an effective technique in selecting and ranking sites for pit-head coal-based TPS.