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Sarkar vents ire on foreign ministry

- Tripura CM criticises delay in extending transmission lines to Bangladesh

Agartala, Feb. 4: Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar has blamed the Union ministry of external affairs for the delay in arranging the state’surplus power to Bangladesh.

Sarkar vented his ire on the external affairs ministry — a forbidden area for comments by chief ministers — in a programme organised by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industries of India, Tripura unit, in the government-run Prajna Bhawan yesterday.

“It is most unfortunate that our ministry of external affairs has been behaving like a big brother. Only a 9km transmission line is required to be laid from Rabindranagar in our bordering Sonamura subdivision to ensure the promised supply of power to Bangladesh but the matter is being delayed,” he said.

Sarkar said since the first unit of Palatana thermal power plant in Udaipur subdivision of south Tripura has begun commercial production of 363.3MW, the state has produced 50MW surplus power daily but this cannot be despatched to the national grid because of non-erection of transmission lines.

When the second unit of Palatana is completed, there will be additional 96MW of surplus power after sharing the generated power with other states of the Northeast and the national grid. After Neepco constructs the Monachak project in Sonamura subdivision, there will be 104MW extra power, which will raise the total surplus to 250MW, he added.

Sarkar said the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) had been entrusted with the task of laying the transmission lines but no progress had been made in the matter, as a result of which Tripura’s extra power could not be despatched to other northeastern states or the national grid.

He said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was keen for her country to be a stake-holder in the Palatana project and the Indian government was reported to have agreed to give 10 per cent equity to Bangladesh in principle but so far there was no progress at the ground level.

He said this was unfortunate, as without Bangladesh government’s co-operation, the equipment and apparatus for the Palatana project could not have been brought to Tripura from Bengal’s Haldia port.

Sarkar also took a dig at Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that by refusing to share Teesta water with Bangladesh, “which is that country’s legitimate due” and by not settling the question of border enclaves early, India was putting the access to Chittagong port and transit facility across Bangladesh in jeopardy.

“We must look at these issues holistically and take an appropriate decision at the earliest. Diplomacy is based on reciprocity of interest and we must do our bit to secure desired benefits from the Bangladesh government,” he added.