NEEPCO project losing Rs.5 crore a month on lack of gas

Agartala : The commissioning of state-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation’s second biggest thermal power project in northeast India has been delayed on account of non-supply of gas by ONGC, resulting in a loss of Rs.5 crore a month, a top company official said Wednesday.

“We have readied the power project in September last year. But the ONGC is not supplying gas as per agreement and repeated assurance by the company,” NEEPCO Chairman and Managing Director P.C. Pankaj told reporters.

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Because of the delay in commissioning of the project, NEEPCO has been incurring a loss of Rs.5 crore a month.

“With the ONGC’s recent promise to supply gas, we are expecting to start generation of electricity from the Monarchak power plant from December this year,” said Pankaj.

According to Pankaj, NEEPCO, a mini-ratna company, would sign a memorandum of understanding with the Tripura government on June 21 to increase the additional generation capacity of around 70 MW of the state’s three existing power plants.

“To augment the generation capacity of the three existing power projects (two gas-based and one hydel power plant) would cost around Rs.320 crore and the expenditure would be shared by NEEPCO and the Tripura government,” he said.

The Rs.9.50 billion (nearly $150 million) 104 MW power plant is in Western Tripura’s Monarchak, 70 km south of Tripura capital Agartala and eight km from the India-Bangladesh border.

“Conceived in 2000 with an installed capacity of 500 MW, the Monarchak power plant’s generation capacity was reduced to 280 MW in 2003-04 after ONGC reduced its gas allocation by half,” NEEPCO General Manager (Electrical) S.R. 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, foundation stone of which was laid in March 2002.

Designed by the US-based General Electric Company, the turbines are being supplied by Bharat Heavy Electric Limited for the plant which would generate 62 MW electricity through gas turbine and 39 MW through steam turbine.

Headquartered in Meghalaya capital Shillong, NEEPCO is also planning to generate at least 1,500 MW from solar and wind energy in the next five years.