A state-owned company’s third largest gas-based power plant near here, mandated to provide 100 MW of electricity to Bangladesh, has been incurring losses due to delays in supply of gas by another public sector undertaking.
The Rs 1,007.57 crore power project has been commissioned by the state-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco) at Monarchak, 70 km south of Tripura’s capital Agartala, with gas supplies linked to the Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC).
According to Neepco General Manager Samar Ranjan Biswas, in view of the delayed commercial generation of power from the environment-friendly project, the corporation has been incurring a loss of Rs 13.20 crore every month.
"ONGC’s repeated dilly-dallying on supplying gas has delayed the commercial generation of electricity from this power project and resulted in huge losses," Biswas told IANS.
Another senior Neepco official said that with Bangladesh keen to source more power from India, and the Tripura and central governments being willing, the company is prepared to supply 100 MW of power to the neighbouring country.
"Conceived in 2000 with an installed capacity of 500 MW, the power plant’s capacity was reduced to 280 MW in 2003-04 after ONGC reduced its gas allocation by half. By May 2004, Neepco had established all infrastructure for the 280 MW plant," Biswas said.
"The ONGC further cut the gas allocation in 2008, forcing Neepco to scale down the installed capacity of the project to 101 MW," said Biswas, who heads the project.
"The commercial generation of electricity of this combined cycle power plant (65.42 MW gas turbine and 36.25 MW steam turbine) would start as and when the ONGC starts supplying gas," he said.
Assigning no reasons for the delay, ONGC Executive Director S.C. Soni said they would be able to supply 0.50 million standard cubic metres per day gas to the Neepco project by December this year or January next year.
The ONGC has also commissioned its first commercial power project in India — 726 MW gas-based combined cycle power project — located in southern Tripura’s Palatana (60 km south of Agartala) and run by the ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC).
"Electricity is being supplied to seven of the eight northeastern states from the Palatana power project. Also, 100 MW of power is being supplied to Bangladesh since March," Soni said, adding that supplying of gas to Palatana is a priority to ONGC as the project is providing power to Bangladesh as per India’s commitment.
Designed by the US-based General Electric, the turbines are being supplied by Bharat Heavy Electric for the Neepco power plant which would generate 65.42 MW electricity through gas turbines and 36.25 MW through steam turbines.
Headquartered in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, Neepco — a ‘mini ratna’ company — has also set up a 5 MW solar power plant on 25 acres of land within the 101 MW Monarchak power plant complex.
The Neepco General Manager said the 5 MW plant, set up at a cost of Rs 43 crore, is the biggest solar power project in Northeast India which started generation in February last year.
"Neepco has signed an agreement with the Solar Energy Corporation of India for the development of 1,000 MW solar power projects in India in the next few years," he added.
ONGC and Neepco power projects in Tripura would ease the electricity shortages of seven of the eight Northeastern states — Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Bangladesh government helped to carry over-dimensional and large-sized turbines and machines from various parts of India to mountainous Tripura using its waterways and roads, thus saving time and cost.