The Telegraph
Thursday , December 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Call to harness power
- Meghalaya urges investors to tap shale formations

Shillong, Dec. 5: Meghalaya today wooed private developers to turn shale gas into a source of power supply in a bid to augment the energy supply in the state.

Shale gas is natural gas that can be tapped from shale formations.

Shale is a fine-grained, clastic, sedimentary rock composed of mud that is a mix of flakes of clay minerals and tiny fragments (silt-sized particles) of other minerals, especially quartz and calcite.

“The Assam-Arakan basin of Meghalaya is very rich in shale gas. It is cheap, but we don’t have the technology,” Meghalaya principal secretary (power) J.P. Prakash said at the one-day conference organised by the Independent Power Producers Association of India (IPPAI) here today.

The conference, inaugurated by deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong, deliberated on the theme Northeast India as a Hub of Power for South Asia.

Prakash utilised the platform to send out an appeal to anyone working in the area of shale gas to come to the state and develop the resource.

While Meghalaya is rich in hydel and thermal power production, it is a power-deficit state due to the inability to tap the potential of these two sources of energy.

Prakash wondered why most of the states are unable to move beyond the signing of memorandums of understanding. “Why are we unable to move beyond the MoU culture? We want to know what stops project developers from implementing these projects,” he said.

In the last few years, Meghalaya had signed six MOUs in the hydel sector, three in thermal. “But there has been no project implementation,” Prakash rued.

The conference also had speakers advocating the need to turn attention towards thermal power production as climate change would have an adverse impact on hydel power generation.

According to Neepco chairman-cum-managing director P.C. Pankaj, the Northeast’s potential in hydel power is around 59,000MW. But of this, only 1,200 MW has been harnessed.

In thermal energy, the installed capacity stands at a mere 1,027MW, only 0.7 per cent of the all-India installed capacity.

Pankaj said the projected energy requirement for the region by 2021-22 was 22,421 MU.

In his speech, Lanong said Meghalaya’s 600 million tonnes of quality coal provides ample scope for power production and industrialisation. “We have good climate, minerals, hospitality, talented people and better security situation compared to other states and we welcome investors to set up power projects in the state,” he said.

Regarding problems in land acquisition, Lanong said the state government would be there to ensure that investors do not face any hurdles.

“But we have to judiciously exploit raw materials keeping in mind the welfare of the people. In the past, certain companies have violated the conditions. This is where the problem arises. If transparency and the law are followed, there will be no problem,” the deputy chief minister said.

IPPAI director-general Harry Dhaul said the region could well become the hub of power for South Asia if a suitable policy is framed. This could rapidly add to the generation capacity in the Northeast, especially hydel power. A single window clearance can be provided for land acquisition, environment, forest and water and a common approach can be adopted in transmission to develop lines which transgress state and country borders.

Exploration and development of coal, gas, shale gas and oil potential in the region and fuel linkages from neighbouring countries should be promoted, he added.