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Govt unleashes power punch

Calcutta, May 6: Bengal will generate 1,000 mw more than its planned capacity addition by 2012 from a new power plant to meet the soaring demand, the government said today.

Power minister Mrinal Banerjee unveiled the blueprint for a greenfield plant at Katwa in Burdwan this evening. 'We need to step up generation as the demand is going up every year. So, we decided to set up two 500-mw units at Katwa,' he said. The Rs 4,000-crore project will be implemented by the state's Power Development Corporation Limited and will begin generation within the Eleventh Plan period.

Union power minister P.M. Sayeed okayed the project at a meeting with Banerjee in Delhi yesterday.

The government has already announced a capacity addition of 1,570 mw by 2007 at its plants at Sagardighi, Bakreswar, Santaldih and the Durgapur Projects Ltd. The Sagardighi, Bakreswar and DPL projects will be extended to generate another 1,500 mw.

The Katwa project is in addition to all this. 'If everything goes smoothly, we will add over 4,000 mw to our capacity by 2012,' said Banerjee.

Sayeed has assured him that getting the clearances from the Central Electricity Authority and other agencies would not be a problem.

Though the new plant will be coal fired, he said, an alternative provision would be made to run it with natural gas. 'A month ago, we signed an agreement with the Gas Authority of India Limited. If it is available, we can run the plant with gas,' said Banerjee.

The funds required will be taken as loan from the Power Finance Corporation and the Rural Electrification Corporation, the minister said. 'We've selected a 1,000-acre plot and will draw water from the Bhagirathi. Our officials have certified the plot fit for a power plant,' he added.

Power Development Corporation officials said it would be easy to reach coal to the site as the Asansol-Ranigunj coal belt is within 100 km.

'With the increasing number of townships and growing commercial activity, the demand for power is increasing by leaps and bounds. If we don't make provision now, we'll be in trouble,' the minister said.

'With industry queuing up for the state, the demand can only go up,' said an official.

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