Siliguri, Oct. 1: Senior officials of the National Hydel Power Corporation have said two of their projects on the Teesta have suffered because of the Gorkhaland agitation in the hills.
Officials said while construction work of the 160MW Teesta Low Dam Project-IV was hampered as workers and machinery could not be mobilised on the strike days, the 132MW Teesta Low Dam Project-III faced operational problems as staff and equipment movement suffered for the agitation.
Both the projects are in Kalimpong and the power generated is meant for Bengal’s consumption.
Yesterday, A.B.L. Srivastava, director (finance) of NHPC, said: “Activities at TLDP-IV have suffered because of the agitation on the Gorkhaland issue. Also, the contractor working at the site mentioned about problems in mobilising resources. We have held talks with the contractor and are hopeful that he would be able to mobilise his resources soon or, we have to think otherwise.”
The project is at Kalijhora, 25km from here.
In March 2005, the cost of the project was pegged at Rs1061. 38 crore and the time of commissioning was given as August 2011.
Officials said the deadline was extended and the project is supposed to be commissioned in October 2014 and about 60 per cent of the work was complete.
“If the work progresses normally, we would be able to meet the deadline. But if the agitation continues to affect the work, it would be difficult to say when we would be able to finish the project,” a source said.
The NHPC officials, however, could not say for how many days work was stopped or the amount of loss.
“Any delay leads to rise in costs. The TLDP-III at Rambi (35km from here) which generates 132MW, was commissioned in April this year. During its construction, we had to face several local problems (for statehood agitation). So far as TLDP-IV is concerned, the problems are beyond the reach of the NHPC. We have nothing much to do,” Srivastava said.
In December 2002, the estimated cost of TLDP-III was Rs 768.92crore and the it was supposed to be commissioned in February 2011.
When asked if the corporation would talk to the state and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders in the hills, Srivastava said: “The issue has to be resolved by the state. We can apprise them about the delay and other facts and figures but we can never be a party to carry out talks. The matter is to be settled through talks between the state and the demonstrators.”
D. Chattopadhyay, general manager of TLDP-IV, said: “West Bengal is the sole beneficiary and would receive 720MU of power from each of the two projects in a year.”
The NHPC has 15 operational projects of 4,782MW in the country and seven projects with a total capacity of 4,000MW are under construction. Two 1,520MW projects were joint ventures and are operational.
“We have signed an MoU with Chhattisgarh to set up a 1,500MW project in Raipur,” Srivastava said.