Legal battle obstructs power distribution in northeast

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 23, 2013 07:00 hrs

Agartala, Feb 23 (IANS) Electricity distribution to power-starved northeastern states by ONGC's first commercial project in Tripura has hit a legal hurdle, a top company official said here Saturday.

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

OTPC was floated by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), the Tripura government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service Limited (IL&FS) to set up the Rs.10,000-crore project.

State-owned ONGC's 726 MW gas-based power plant at Palatana, 60 km from here, has begun generating electricity from its first 363 MW unit since Oct 22. The second unit of 363 MW would start its operations by June this year.

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

To connect the transmission line with the national grid, sub-stations are being set up at Byrnihat on the Assam-Meghalaya border and others at Missa and Balipara in eastern Assam," Dube said.

He, however, added that to draw transmission lines between the sub-stations, after construction of a tower at Byrnihat, the land owner filed a case in the Gauhati High Court seeking huge compensation for his land used for setting up of the tower.

The high court Tuesday asked the Divisional Commissioner of Ri-Bhoi district in western Meghalaya to determine the compensation amount for the land.

Dube said that following the court order, a case was filed in the Supreme Court Friday seeking its intervention to settle the dispute.

He said if the dispute is not resolved at the earliest, the necessary full load testing and the 15-days mandatory trial operation of the power project would not be completed in time.

"We are ready to pay the compensation for the land, but we need early settlement of the dispute."

He said the development and operation of the transmission system at a cost of Rs.2,000 crore has been undertaken by the North East Transmission Company Limited, a joint venture of OTPC, the Power Grid Corporation of India and the 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.

The official said that getting forest clearance from the union forest and environment ministry to set up the power sub-stations and towers of transmission lines in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya was also a cumbersome task.

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 road and waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

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

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