DISMAL POWER SCENE
Most small power projects abandoned barely halfway through
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Oct 24: A chronically power-starved State left badly hobbled in all its efforts to industrialize, Assam stares at a bleak power scerio despite investment of over Rs 10,000 crore in more than 14 years of Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government's rule. The State generates merely about one-seventh of its demand, while continuing to lose around one-third of the precious electricity to poor transmission and theft.
Adding insult to injury, the State government has been making a mockery of its supposed drive to develop small power schemes.
Back in 2007, the State government had laid the foundation stone for a mini thermal power project at Baghjap in Morigaon district. Amrit Bio Energy & Industries Limited was entrusted to execute the Rs 60 crore, 10 MW project for which land had already been acquired. Touted as the first biomass plant in the State, the developers were supposed to use rice husk to generate power. It was scheduled to be completed by 2012.
Eight years on, the Baghjap project site is now a grazing ground for cattle. The developers have not even constructed a boundary wall to encompass the site till date.
The 6 MW Lungnit hydro electric project in Karbi Anglong is another dud that has fizzled out. Its foundation stone was laid seven years back. But the site today bears a deserted look, with the developers virtually abandoning it after completing around 20 per cent of the work.
A number of such small power projects have been abandoned half way, even as the State government continues to tom-tom its 'thrust on developing small power plants' in a capital-deficient State. Pradyut Bordoloi, who had been the State's power minister for ten years, had himself set a number of deadlines for completion of these projects, but none were met.
The State's power department is groping for explations to justify such wastage of public money through which only private firms have got richer. Despite investing over Rs 10,000 crore in the State, the government has utterly failed to improve the State power scerio in the last one and half decade.
The power department has been claiming that a majority of the investment was made in improving the distribution network. But parliamentary secretary (power) Rupjyoti Kurmi has let the cat out of the bag, when he admitted last week that the Assam Power Distribution Corporation Limited (APDCL) loses as much as 30 to 35 per cent of electricity because of poor transmission & distribution (T&D) and theft of power.
Assam has been experiencing an average peak demand for power to the tune of 1,400 MW. The State's own production in 2001 was around 200 MW. It has increased at a sil's pace to just 260 MW in the last 15 years. The total availability of power, at present, is around 1,200 MW including the State's own generation.
The APDCL is now pinning its hopes to improve power supply after the commissioning of the 750 MW Bongaigaon Thermal Power Project of NTPC at Salakati, which is proposed to be partially commissioned towards the end of the current year.