The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SEB nod for power joint venture at Rajarhat

For the first time ever, the cash-strapped West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) has decided to go in for a joint venture to build up the infrastructure for power supply to Rajarhat New Town.

The WBSEB and the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), the nodal agency under the control of the housing department that will implement the township project, are setting up the company.

The WBSEB will take the responsibility of laying the transmission lines and construction of sub-stations in the township, in association with the Hidco. The funds will be provided by the Hidco. An agreement between the two agencies on this score is likely to be signed shortly.

“There is no doubt that the WBSEB is facing a funds crunch, but it does not mean that we shall not take up any new job. The new township is a prestigious project. So, despite the funds crunch, the WBSEB will involve itself in the project. To avoid legal and technical problems in raising funds, we have agreed to go in for a joint venture,’’ said power minister Mrinal Banerjee. WBSEB engineers and officers have already prepared the blueprint and work will start soon on a war footing.

“The infrastructure development work, including land-filling, laying of drainage and sewerage lines, construction of arterial roads and connectors at the new township, is at the final stage. The work at Action Area I is almost complete. We have decided on a joint venture with the WBSEB in order to speed up the work,’’ housing minister Gautam Deb said.

An 11-KVA sub-station has already been constructed in the township, from where power is supplied to the housing complexes under construction and to light up the main road. “We expect a major development in laying the power transmission line within six months’ time. Possession of land in the Action Area I will start during the Pujas. Plot-owners are expected to get their power connections when they start construction of buildings,’’ the minister said.

According to officials, Hidco has taken the full responsibility to set up the basic infrastructure with the help of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department. But when it came to power, the agency did not take the risk, as it does not have any expertise in this field, which is fully technical. “As the WBSEB is the sole authority and has expertise in power transmission, we thought it wise to involve the agency in organising the power supply,’’ they said.

Though Hidco has been urging the WBSEB to take up the job for the past few months, the latter was reluctant to do so because of a paucity of funds. According to a rough estimate, at least Rs 200 crore is required initially to lay a power transmission line and for construction of sub-stations. The WBSEB officials made it clear that they were not in a position to invest so much immediately.

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