More power for northeast India

Agartala, July 31 (IANS) With the commissioning of new hydel and thermal projects, state-run North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) is expecting to add over 6,000 MW of power to its current capacity in the coming years.

"Many hydel and thermal power projects are now at various stages of commissioning... Completion of the under commissioning and planned projects in different northeastern states would generate over 6,000 MW in the region," NEEPCO chairman and managing director (CMD) P.C. Pankaj told IANS in an interview.

NEEPCO, which got the 'Miniratna' status in April this year, has an installed capacity of 1,130 MW, which is 47 percent of the total installed capacity of the northeastern region.

The NEEPCO CMD had come here from Shillong to supervise the Monarchak 101 MW capacity power project in Sonamura in western Tripura, bordering Bangladesh. He met Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Power Minister Manik Dey and other officials and discussed progress of the power plant.

"The gas based Monarchak power project would start generating electricity by September this year if the ONGC ensures supply of gas to the project," Pankaj said, adding that the project cost has escalated from Rs.623 crore to Rs.960 crore due to delay in execution of the plant.

He said 51 MW would be generated by NEEPCO's 84 MW capacity Agartala thermal power project at Ramchandra Nagar near here by August next year.

The hydro-power potential of the northeastern region is estimated at about 58,971 MW, but only less than two percent (1,200 MW) has so far been harnessed till early this year. NEEPCO is also planning to generate at least 1,500 MW power from non-conventional sources of energy such as solar and wind in the next five years.

In the region that comprises eight states and has a population of 45.58 million, the peak hour demand of electricity is around 2,000 MW.

According to an official document, 19 power projects, including twelve 3,918 MW capacity hydel power projects and four thermal power projects with installed capacity of 5,595 MW, are now in various stages of commissioning and planning in the northeastern region by different organisations, including NEEPCO.

The power plants would be set up in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura.

Three power projects totalling 1,344 MW would also be commissioned by private organisations in Arunachal Pradesh.

Pankaj said NEEPCO would sponsor an industrial training institute at Sonamura in western Tripura.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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