R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Aug 19 – The Power Ministers of the North Eastern states will meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh soon seeking the Centre’s assistance in tiding over the acute power crisis faced by almost all the states of the region. The Power Ministers will also demand a comprehensive study on the possible impacts of the dam projects before clearing it.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Assam Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said that one of the major issues to be raised by the Power Ministers of the region before the Prime Minister would be the decision to increase the price of gas. He said that the decision to increase gas price with effect from June 1 would seriously affect the gas based power projects of the region and the cost of production would go up substantially. He said that the Power Ministers of the NE states would request the Prime Minister to roll back the gas price immediately so that the gas based power projects remain viable.
The second issue to be raised before the Prime Minister is the concern over the possible impacts of the construction of mega dams. Bordoloi said that he raised the issue of construction of dams in the recent conference of the Power Ministers of the NE states in Shillong and it was decided that the matter would be taken up with the Prime Minister so that the Centre undertakes a comprehensive study before granting permission for construction of dam projects. “We need power but we are against reckless construction of dams without comprehensive study of the possible impact,” he added.
The Power Ministers will further call upon the Prime Minister to ensure that the setting up of power projects by the Central sector units including NHPC and NTPC are expedited. They will also demand that the states of the region should get priority in allotment of power generated by the central sector power projects in the region. Bordoloi said that this demand was raised earlier by the Power Ministers of the NE states and the Power Ministry has accepted the demand on principle. The Power Ministry has already assured that Assam would get 600 MW power from the Lower Subansiri project, which would generate 2,000 MW of power after its commissioning.
Bordoloi said that all the NE states including Assam are facing acute power shortage and too much dependence on power generated by the hydropower projects is one of the reasons for the present state of affairs. The situation would improve only after the commissioning of the thermal power projects being set up by Central sector organizations.
To tide over the immediate crisis, the Power Ministers of the NE would call upon the Prime Minister to take steps to ensure that the region gets priority in allotment of power imported from Bhutan. Bordoloi said that though India is importing power from Bhutan, the same is fed to the Eastern region grid and caters to the need of the states like West Bengal and Bihar. The NE Power Ministers would demand that the major portion of the imported power should be fed to the NE region grid to cater to the needs of the states of the North East.
The NE Power Ministers will also meet Union Power Minister to raise the same issues.