Technical snags hit ONGC's first power plant in Tripura

Agartala, Sep 3 (IANS) Two-and-a-half months after President Pranab Mukherjee dedicated ONGC's first 726 MW mega power project in Tripura to the nation, commercial generation is yet to begin due to technical snags, an official said.

The OTPC (ONGC Tripura Power Company limited), a company floated to set up the Rs.10,000-crore plant at Palatana in southern Tripura, 60 km from here, is yet to finalise the date on which commercial generation will start from the giant gas-based plant.

After the inauguration of the power project by President Mukherjee June 21, technical hurdles were found in the 53-km gas pipelines, laid by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to supply gas to the power plant.

"With the help of experts from other parts of the country, ONGC engineers recently cleared the dirt in the gas supply line by "special pigging operations," an ONGC spokesman told IANS.

"Immediately after the special pigging operation was completed, problems in gas booster compressors developed. Two gas booster compressors were sent to the BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited) repairing centre at Hyderabad in two trucks with long trailers," he added.

OTPC Managing Director Sudhindra Kumar Dube said that ONGC had already cleared the pipelines and the plant would soon run on a trial basis for a few days.

"After the trial run and completion of some formalities, the plant would run at full load for 72 hours before the commercial production of electricity," Dube told IANS over the phone from New Delhi.

"Ahead of commercial production, buyers of power from the plant (officials from the other northeastern states) would be present here (at the site), and necessary clearances will be obtained from appropriate authorities," he added.

The ONGC plant will resolve the power crisis of seven of the eight northeastern states.

Assam will get the maximum share of 240 MW of electricity from the plant, followed by Tripura (196 MW), Meghalaya (79 MW), Manipur (42 MW), Nagaland (27 MW), Mizoram (22 MW) and Arunachal Pradesh (22 MW). Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) and ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) will keep 98 MW.

OTPC was floated by ONGC, the Tripura government and IL&FS.

The plant began generating minimum electricity on a trial basis from its first 363 MW unit last Oct 22, but technical problems soon developed in the gas pipelines.

The second 363 MW unit is scheduled to start operations by this year-end.

The Palatana project is a hallmark of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, which ensured smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana through its territory by roads and waterways, from the Haldia port in West Bengal.

"A 660-km-long 400KV transmission power line has been drawn up to Silchar (in southern Assam) from Palatana to connect with the Bongaigaon national grid (in western Assam) to distribute electricity to the various northeastern states," the OTPC managing director said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone of the power project in October 2005.

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

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