ONGC to commission first power project in Tripura

June 3rd, 2011 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Agartala, June 3 (IANS) Despite transportation hiccups, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will by year-end partially commission its first 726-MW gas-based thermal power project in Tripura, the largest in the northeast, a top official said.

“The generation of electricity would start from the (363 MW) first unit of the power project in December. The project would be fully operational by March next year,” Sudhindra Kumar Dube, managing director of the ONGC Tripura Power Co Ltd (OTPC), told IANS.

ONGC, a Fortune 500 company, has formed OTPC to set up the Rs.9,000-crore project in Palatana, 60 km south of this Tripura capital, for which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone in 2005.

The oversized heavy turbines and other heavy machines for the project, carried on massive 132-wheeled trucks, had reached the site in April from Haldia port in West Bengal after being trans-shipped through Bangladesh. Some more turbines and big machines are on their way to Tripura.

The ONGC official said transporting the heavy equipment to Tripura over a few thousand kilometers of surface routes within India - through the mountainous northeastern states - was extremely difficult, and the Indian authorities were forced to carry the power plant’s equipment through Bangladesh.

India developed a jetty at the Ashuganj river port, 45 km from Agartala, widened the roads in Bangladesh and developed around 25 bypasses across the border and inside Tripura to ferry the heavy equipment for the power project. The Bangladesh government had earlier agreed to allow India the use of its waterways to transport the equipment for the project.

Due to incessant rains and heavy showers in the past one week, some bypasses, built over Tripura’s rivers, have either been washed away or badly damaged, putting the authorities in a tizzy for transporting the heavy machinery in the mountainous state.

“We are talking to the BRO (Border Roads Organisation) and associated organisations to build alternate bypasses to carry the turbines and other machinery,” Dube said.

On April 19, one of the 280-tonne turbines was damaged when it fell off its transporter. After 41 days of frantic efforts, the engineers and workers again placed it on the transporter earlier this week.

“Work on commissioning the power project is in full swing despite the transportation difficulties,” Dube said.

A consortium comprising US-based General Electric and India’s state-run BHEL has been contracted to supply the all-important gas turbines for the thermal power project,” ONGC officials added.

ONGC owns significant natural gas reserves in Tripura. However, these reserves are yet to be commercially exploited due to the low industrial demand in the northeastern region. The complexities of logistics and costs limit the economic viability of transporting gas to other deficit parts of the country. It is to optimally utilise the gas available in Tripura that ONGC proposes developing the 726- MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) thermal power plant close to its gas fields in the state to supply power to deficit areas of northeastern India.

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