Monarchak (Tripura): North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO), a state run ‘Mini Ratna’ under the Ministry of Power claimed that it facing a loss of Rs 40 lakh daily since August 2013 as ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd) has failed to supply the committed gas to its 101 Megawatt power project at Monarchak in Tripura set up at a cost of more than Rs 1000 crores.
Samar Ranjan Biswas, Head of the Monarchak project said, “Even after completion of the project of 100 MW size, and in all respect the project was completed in August 2013 unfortunately ONGC could not give us gas and it has remained unutilized. We had generated power only for few months and that too during non-operational of one unit of Palatana plant (power plant of ONGC) they could have given us the gas. After that it was again suspended and till now it is under suspension.”
According to officials initially in the year 2001, NEEPCO had a plan to set up a gas based 500 MW combined cycle power plant and with the approval and allocation of 2 MMSCUMD (Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day) of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MOP and NG).
But in 2003 the gas allocation for the project was reduced to half and accordingly NEEPCO established all infrastructure for a 280 MW power plant.
Meantime, ONGC during the end of 2005 had come with proposed for setting up its first power plant of 750 MW at Palatana in South Tripura and on view of which the MOP conveyed to NEEPCO to abandon its 280 MW Monarchak project.
However, under the pursuance of the government of Tripura and NEEPCO by the end of 2007 again MOP&NG had asked ONGC to provide gas but this time only 0.5 MMSCUMD (i.e, one fourth what was committed) and according again the DPR for the project was changed to 101 MW and got approval from the CEA (Central Electricity Authority of India).
In July 2010 the Project Investment Board (PIB) approved the project followed by the approval for setting up of the project by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), then headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in February 2011.
In this delay the sanctioned project cost of Rs 623.44 crores after the revise had almost doubled and gone up to Rs 1007.57 crores.
In spite of all these hurdles including the transportation of the over dimensional cargo (ODC) of the turbines and its parts in record 36 months and by the mid of 2013, NEEPCO completed the work of the gas turbine followed by the steam turbine and intimated about its readiness to the MOP&NG.
Finally it became a 101 MW project and of which 63 MW would be generated by gas turbine while 38 MW by steam turbines.
Accordingly ONGC on intermittent basis and as per availability first supplied gas in February 2015 though it failed to supply full contracted quantity and expressing its inability assured to supply by March 2016.
Later only for a short period of two months (from 24 December 2015 to 28 February 2016) ONGC continuously supplied 0.5 MMS gas and during which both the gas and steam turbine operated, but now again ONGC has intimated that only by December 2016 it will be able to supply gas to the Monarchak project.
The non supply of gas is a big loss for the NEEPCO and now official say that they are not sure about the fate of the project as ONGC has been giving date after date for supplying gas and without which the entire investment will be of no use.
“We do not know what will happen to the plant, it is definitely a loss, a loss to the corporation and the nation. However, we have taken up the matter with the government of India and they have taken it with ONGC and others. Now we have got a commitment form the Ministry of Petroleum that gas will be resumed by December 2016 and in that case I think that we will be on stream with effect from January 2017. Daily loss is around Rs 40 to 45 lakhs and so yearly we shall have a loss of Rs 100 crore. Investment is Rs 1000 crore and we have a loan from Stat Bank of Singapore,” informed the Head of the Monarchak project.
Along with this there are additional losses as the turbines and machineries which have already been used shall also gradually get rusted without use beside the staff and engineers those engaged with the project getting demoralized.
N Bhuiya, a senior manager, said, “See we are losing around 40 lakhs a month and not only losing money but now we people – the engineers who are posted here are becoming ideal and that is also loss of your manpower and resource. So that way we are losing, revenue wise we are losing and see this is an internal combustion gas turbine and when already firing has taken place inside the gas turbine and definitely if it is a continuously process it is good. When we stop for eight to nine months again the whole process we have to start because from cleaning the gas pipeline, cleaning the steam turbine, pipelines whole activity again we have to do. So this is a loss in whole all the way, in terms of revenue, manpower and man resource.”
The ambitious combined cycle electric power project of NEEPCO at Monarchak is all ready but ONGC has again expressed inability to supply gas till the end of this year. Now only time will say if NEEPCO shall be able to start its more than Rs 1000 crores project or shall have to bear the loss, a loss to the entire nation especially when India is starving for power and without which the wheel of development cannot run. (ANI)