(Left) Northeast power ministers light the inaugural lamp and Meghalaya power minister and NERPC chairman Comingone Ymbon speaks at the 18th NERPC meeting in Shillong on Wednesday. Pictures by UB Photos
Shillong, Oct. 11: Power ministers of Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur underlined the need to approach the Centre for a change in the funding pattern for states in the region, which still need development in the power sector.
The ministers raised this issue at the two-day 18th North-eastern Regional Power Committee (NERPC) meeting, which concluded here today.
At present, there are projects being implemented in the region with a funding pattern of 90 per cent funded by the Centre and 10 per cent by the states.
There are also projects where the funding is on a 50:50 and 80:20 basis.
Meghalaya power minister and NERPC chairman Comingone Ymbon said all states in the region must urge the Centre to give special attention to the overall development of the power sector in the region.
To address the problem of low voltage being faced by the region in several pockets, Ymbon suggested the installation of capacitor banks.
Pointing out that the detailed project reports of Mizoram and Nagaland in this regard have been also kept on a low priority, Ymbon urged all states in the region to take up this issue together very strongly with the Central Electricity Authority and the ministry of power.
According to Ymbon, problems related to low voltage in Tripura are also a serious issue. He also underlined the need to urge the Centre to sanction funds from the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) to be made available for the Northeast.
Highlighting difficulties being faced by the NRTC and PowerGrid in maintaining the 400kv D/C Palatana-Silchar line, the Meghalaya minister said, "This is a matter of concern as this is the only highway for evacuation of power from 726MW the Palatana gas-based power plant of the northeastern grid and export to other parts of the country as well."
He said continuous and unhindered maintenance is of utmost importance because any outage of transmission line would not only lead to constraints in evacuation of generation, but also lead to acute power crisis in the region.
Nagaland power minister C. Kipili Sangtam said the time has come for all states in the region to join hands to approach the Union ministries of power and new and renewable energy to change the current funding pattern for implementing power projects in the region.
"The government of India will do complete funding and we will get complete power facility for the overall socio-economic development of the region," Sangtam said.
Admitting that all states in the region are facing acute problems owing to a shortage of funds for various power projects, Sangtam said, "We are indeed tired of asking for gap funding from the North Eastern Council (NEC), and the DoNER ministry and other financial institutions."
With states in the region being development-deficit, the Nagaland minister stressed that the Centre should give preference to the region while framing policies, funding and action plans.
Slamming the Centre, Tripura power minister Manik Dey said the Union ministry of power was depriving states in the Northeast while providing sanctions for centrally-sponsored schemes like Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) and Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY).
Dey said though the Tripura government had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) under DDUGJY amounting to Rs 903.01 crore to provide electricity to unelectrified habitations that would cover 100 per cent households, including quality power supply, only Rs 74.12 crore has been received, just 8.21 per cent of the total funds required by the state.
Under IPDS, Dey said a detailed project report of Rs 510.16 crore for renovation, augmentation and strengthening of urban distribution system for supply of reliable and quality power has been submitted but the sanction received was only Rs 74.24 crore, about 14.55 per cent of the total requirement.
"With meagre sanction, how will the state fulfil the objective of providing power 24X7 as declared by the Centre? The ministry of power should provide full sanction for both schemes to achieve the objective," Dey said.
Dey said though implementation of centrally-sponsored schemes was taken up on a priority basis by the states, the flow of funds from the Centre was not smooth, leading to a delay in the progress of implementation of schemes.
The northeastern states today resolved to urge the Centre to pay compensation for the diversion of transmission towers of the Northeast Transmission Company (NETC) to facilitate the construction of railway lines by the Northeast Frontier Railway.
The meeting also decided to request the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) to give a presentation on the pros and cons of the point of connection (POC) charges being adopted when power is drawn from PowerGrid.
The resolution was adopted during the NERPC meeting held here today.
On the concluding day today, the meeting was attended by power ministers from the seven states of the region.
The NETC, a joint venture of the ONGC Tripura Power Company Ltd (OTPC), PowerGrid and states of the Northeast, was incorporated to develop transmission lines to evacuate power from the 726.6MW gas-based combined cycle power project of the ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) at Palatana in Tripura.
The transmission line from Palatana is connected to Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam through sub-station at Silchar, Azara and Bongaigaon. The transmission line is of route length of 662.8 km.
On the diversion of NETC towers, the meeting observed that the construction of the railway line that links Tetelia in Assam's Kamrup district with Byrnihat in Meghalaya's Ri Bhoi district would lead to the diversion of eight NETC towers of the 400kv Silchar-Byrnihat-Azara line, which is the part of the 400kv Palatana transmission system owned by NETC.
The officials said when power is drawn from PowerGrid, there is vast variation on payment of POC charges (transmission charges) for states in the region.