GUWAHATI, May 3 – On a day marked by the formal ground breaking of the 3 x 250 mw NTPC’s Thermal Power Station at Bongaigaon, Union Minister of Power for State Jairam Ramesh said that the time has come for the northeastern States to develop their thermal power base. Addressing a press conference where he described the BTPS as a major step in ensuring the power security of Assam, Ramesh said that a slew of other projects were on the anvil in several states of the region that would vastly augment the quantum of power presently available in a power-starved region.
Referring to the BTPS, Ramesh said that according to the timeline, the first unit of 250 MW would be commissioned in February 2011, the second and the third units of 250mw each would go on steam in April 2011 and May 2011 respectively.
“Significantly, it would be the first thermal power station in the country to use the sophisticated technology of de-sulphurisation, which would enable the harnessing of high-sulphur Assam coal,” the Minister noted.
He further stated that the power station after acquiring the installed capacity of 750 mw, could be extended to produce additional power. In the next phase there existed the provision for two 500 mw units to be commissioned.
Asserting that “more than maximum employment” would be ensured for the local people in the project, he added that even the general manager of the planned project was a person who belonged to the region.
Speaking about the power situation in the North East and its future prospects, Ramesh stressed the need for developing more thermal power stations. “While India required more hydel stations, the Northeast would have to look towards more thermal power plants,” he said and alluded to the fact that hydro power was seasonal and therefore could not be a base for sustainable energy even though the cost-benefit analysis at times favored hydel stations.
On the issue of developing power generation in Assam and the rest of the North East, Ramesh believed that the North East Electric Power Corporation had its role cut to play the lead role. Stating that after two years NEEPCO had a full time CMD to be based in Shillong, he felt it would help improve the performance of the 32 year old entity.
Ramesh expressed his confidence that NEEPCO would be able to produce an additional 1,800 mw of power in the next five years. Among the six major power projects to be undertaken by NEEPCO are 600 mw Kameng, 60 mw Tuirial, 110 mw Pare, 500 mw Garo Hills, and 480 mw Margherita among others.
In order to get much needed funds in the near future, NEEPCO could go in for an Initial Public Offering in the early part of next year, he mentioned.
Responding to a question Ramesh disclosed that the coal required for BTPS would be sourced from Margherita in upper Assam, and Raniganj. A proposal has already been submitted to the Indian Railways on the required rail linkages, the cost of which would be borne by the NTPC.