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NE looks at surplus power

Agartala, Jan. 22: Industry-starved Northeast is all set to emerge as a power surplus region by June this year when ONGC’s 726MW thermal project at Palatana in Tripura starts generating power to its full capacity.

“Power generation from the plant’s first unit (363.3MW) began on December 31, 2013 while the second unit (363.3MW) will become operational by June,” a senior official of ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) said today. There were transmission problems in the region, which were expected to be sorted out soon, he added.

The 726MW combined cycle gas-based thermal power project (using both water and natural gas) at Palatana village, 60km from Agartala, in Udaipur district of southern Tripura is the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)’s first commercial power project in India. The ONGC is building it in partnership with the state government and the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS).

The OTPC official said the current peak-hour demand for electricity in the seven northeastern states was 2,200MW to 2,300MW. “At present, the shortage of power is around 100MW. After Palatana plant’s second unit starts generating power, the Northeast will have surplus power and be able to supply it to other parts of the country through the national grid,” he added.

“A 400kV high transmission power line (661km) has been drawn up from Palatana to Silchar in southern Assam to connect with the Bongaigaon national grid in western Assam to distribute electricity to the northeastern states,” the official said.

From this power plant, Assam will get the maximum share of 240MW of electricity, followed by Tripura (196MW), Meghalaya (79MW), Manipur (42MW), Nagaland (27MW), Mizoram (22MW) and Arunachal Pradesh (22MW). OTPC and IL&FS together will keep 98MW.

“OTPC has signed an agreement with ONGC for supplying 2.65 million metric standard cubic metres gas per day. The agreement will be valid for 15 years against the plant’s assumed life span of 25 years. It can be extended by 10 years,” the official said.

Altogether Rs 10,000 crore is being invested in the project and related works like laying of transmission lines and setting up of gas pipelines.

In Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the chief ministers of Northeast on Monday, Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar urged him to ensure early and proper utilisation of surplus power being generated from the project’s first unit. He also pointed out that laying of a 9km transmission line from Tripura’s Sonamura subdivision to bordering Comilla district town in Bangladesh would facilitate easy transmission of power to that country.

Singh, who had laid the foundation stone of the project on October 29, 2005, indicated that the Centre was pondering over the issue and matters related to the project would be expedited.

The project is also a hallmark of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, which ensured smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana through its territory by road and waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

To help Bangladesh cope with rising power crisis, India has agreed in principle to provide power to it from Tripura’s quota. New Delhi has also agreed to offer Bangladesh 10 per cent equity in the project and sell 250MW of power to the neighbouring country after the second unit of the project is commissioned.

The Palatana power project was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on June 21 last year. Its first unit, however, could not generate power to its full capacity for the first six months because of technical glitches. The unit started generating full 363.3MW without any hiccups from December 31.


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