Equipment reaches Tripura power plant via Bangladesh


Agartala : The oversized heavy turbines and machines for the Northeast’s first giant power project of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) reached Tripura from Haldia port in West Bengal after being transshipped for the first ever time through Bangladesh Wednesday.

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“Four big lorries carrying the over-dimensional machineries weighing about 180 tonnes each entered Tripura through Akhaurah land port from Ashuganj river port on Meghna river in eastern Bangladesh,” an ONGC official told reporters.

The official said transporting the heavy equipment to Tripura by surface route within India (through the mountainous northeastern states) is extremely difficult, and the Indian authorities were forced to carry the power plant equipment through Bangladesh.

According to the official, the heavy consignments came to Ashuganj port last month by water ways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

“In all, 87 consignments consisting of turbines and big machineries for the ONGC’s Palatana power project would be transshipped from Ashuganj to mountainous Tripura via Akhaurah border in the next three months,” the official added.

He said India has developed a jetty at the Ashuganj river port, 45 km from Tripura capital Agartala, widened the roads in Bangladesh and developed around 25 bypasses across the border and inside Tripura to ferry heavy equipment for the power project.

“The generation of electricity would start from the first unit (363 MW) of the power project, biggest ever thermal power plant in northeast India, in December this year. The project would be fully operational by March next year,” the official said.

The state-owned exploration giant ONGC’s biggest commercial power project is being commissioned in south Tripura’s Palatana, about 60 km south of here, at a cost of Rs.9,000 crore.

The Bangladesh government had earlier agreed to allow India use of its waterways to transport the turbines and heavy machines for the power project, for which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone in October 2005.

“A consortium comprising the US-based General Electric (GE) and India’s state-run BHEL has been awarded contract to supply the all-important gas turbines for the thermal power project,” the official added.

According to ONGC officials, the state-run Power Grid Corp of India Limited (PGCIL), ONGC Tripura Power Co Ltd (OTPC), a new company formed for commissioning the project, and the northeastern states would set up a 660-km transmission line at the cost of Rs.1,771 crore to hook Palatana with the national grid at Bongaigaon in western Assam.

The much expected commissioning of the power project, a co-generation waste heat recovery power plant and ONGC’s first major commercial project, has been delayed mainly due to difficulties in transporting heavy turbines and machineries to south Tripura.