Tripura eyes supplying power to rest of India - via Bangladesh

Agartala, Jan 16 (IANS) If Tripura has its way, one of the smallest states of the country will soon be supplying surplus power from two of its projects in the northeast to the rest of India - through Bangladesh. The state has asked the centre to persuade the Bangladesh government to evolve a mechanism for this.

State-owned ONGC's 726 MW plant in Palatana in south Tripura has begun generating electricity from its first unit and by June, would be at its full capacity. Also, state-run North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) is setting up a 104 MW gas-based project at Monarchak in western Tripura that would start generating power by this year-end.

"To evacuate the power from Tripura to the national grid at Bongaigaon in western Assam to transmit electricity to various northeastern states, drawing the transmission lines through hilly terrains and forests is an uphill task," Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey told IANS.

"To overcome the electricity transmission problems, it would be much easier to send out power to the other parts of India via Bangladesh. We have asked the central government to talk to the Bangladesh government to evolve a mechanism in this regard.

"The central government is studying the matter," Dey added.

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 waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had earlier said the Bangladesh government had sought electricity from the Palatana project, 60 km south of capital Agartala.

"Transmission of power from the Palatana power project to various northeastern states is a big problem," Sudhindra Kumar Dube, managing director of the ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC), told IANS.

OTPC is floated jointly by ONGC, the Tripura government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service Limited (IL&FS) to set up the project.

"A 400 KV high transmission power line (650 km) has been drawn up to Silchar in southern Assam from Palatana to connect with the Bongaigaon national grid to distribute the electricity to various northeastern states.

"To connect the transmission line with the national grid, a sub-station is being set up at Byrnihat on the Assam-Meghalaya border and another at Missa in Assam."

Dube said the development and operation of the transmission system would be undertaken by North East Transmission Company Limited, a joint venture of OTPC, the Power Grid Corporation of India and the northeastern region beneficiary states.

"We are ready to supply power from the first unit (363 MW) of the project. Now it would depend on the NERLDC (North Eastern Regional Load Despatch Centre) to distribute power among the northeastern states," Dube said.

"Production of power from the second unit (363 MW) of the plant would start by June," he added.

According to him, generation of power from the power projects combined with linked transmission plan is slated to bring in investments of around Rs.9,000 crore into the region.

Tripura, whose current peak hour demand is around 200 MW, would also be a power surplus state after the commissioning of the project.

"Based on the experience of the Palatana power project, OTPC has finalised a plan to set up 2,000 MW capacity power projects in northeastern states or elsewhere by 2017," Dube said.

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

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