Agartala, Aug. 23: The twin gas booster compressors (GBCs) of Palatana thermal power plant near Udaipur subdivision in Gomati district of Tripura were sent to the headquarters of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) at Hyderabad by road.
ONGC’s Tripura Power Company (TPC), which launched the 726.6MW thermal power plant at Palatana at an initial estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore, had chartered a giant Gazaraj aircraft of the Indian Air Force to transport the two GBCs to Hyderabad by air on August 20.
The Gazaraj had duly landed at Agartala airport on the August 20 morning but the pilot refused to fly the GBCs, saying the unwheeled GBCs would be difficult to load on the aircraft and would seriously damage its body.
The pilot stuck to his guns despite assurance from TPC authorities that the compressors would be loaded with utmost care. Finally, the power company had to hire two big trailers and the compressors were sent to Hyderabad by road yesterday.
No senior TPC official was available for comment. A senior ONGC technocrat associated with Palatana, N. Raju, said the trailer trucks would take at least 12 days to reach Hyderabad through non-stop driving and the same number of days to return to Agartala.
“The Bhel authority has promised to repair the GBCs on a priority basis and we are hoping that they will return soon after repair to resume production,” said Raju.
Earlier, TPC authorities had brought a number of engineers from Bhel and other power companies to look into the compressors but they could not repair them. The gas booster compressors have suffered serious damage because of invasion of large quantities of mud and slush along with natural gas supplied to them for power generation.
The failure of the 363.3MW first unit of Palatana to take off has cast a pall of gloom not only on TPC and Tripura but also on power prospects of notheastern states, including Assam.
After the project had been finalised, the TPC authority in consultation with the Union power ministry had finalised power sharing arrangements, allotting 240MW to Assam, 196MW to host state Tripura, 79MW to Meghalaya and the remaining to be shared by Manipur, Nagaland , Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.
But the failure of the project so far has made the issue of power-sharing a bleak prospect.
Sources in TPC said the first unit of Palatana had developed problems even during the trial stage before formal inauguration on June 21 by President Pranab Mukherjee.
It was with a Herculean effort that engineers based here and brought from outside had managed to set the faulty project partially right and upon inauguration the first unit could generate only 71MW for a few hours before collapsing.
TPC sources said they were hopeful that Bhel would repair the compressors and power generation would resume in Palatana.