Guwahati, Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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Centre okays coal linkage to Margherita thermal plant
KALYAN BAROOAH
 NEW DELHI, Sept 9 – Decks have been cleared to set up the 660-MW Margherita Thermal Power Project with the Centre clearing the Assam Government’s proposal for coal linkage to the project as a special case. As the State Government’s request for coal linkage has been pending since 2009, the project was getting delayed.

The Centre’s clearance came at a meeting held on the sidelines of the Conference of Power Ministers of States at the Vigyan Bhavan here today. The matter was brought up by Assam Power and Industry Minister Pradyut Bordoloi.

Those present at the meet included Union Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Union Power Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha and Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Coal India Limited Dr AK Dubey.

“The Centre has agreed to provide coal linkage to the Margherita power project. It will operate as a joint venture of the State Government Undertaking and a Public Sector Undertaking which will be either the NTPC or the NEEPCO. The project is estimated to cost Rs 7,920 crore,” Bordoloi told this newspaper.

He added that he had urged the Union Power Minister not to insist on the adoption of the Gadgil formula in the distribution of power, but allocate the project’s power output to Assam as a special case.

Bordoloi said necessary land along a perennial river had been acquired to set up the 660-MW ‘pit head’ thermal station at Margherita. “The NTPC and the NEEPCO were requested to have a joint venture with our government company, APGCL, to set up the project,” he said.

The Assam Government applied for 1.83 MMT of coal per year from the Eastern Coal Fields so that an equivalent quantum of coal from the NECL can be utilised for the proposed plant at Margherita, Bordoloi said.

The Central Government has also been requested to arrange the coal linkage for the supply of 0.4 MMT per year for the 60-MW Chandrapur Thermal Power Station. The intervention of the Government of India is needed for the early allocation of the coal linkage to these projects, said the Assam Power Minister.

Meanwhile, faced with a perennial power crisis, Bordoloi reiterated the demand for the increase of power allocation to 600 MW and 120 MW of free power. He also made a case for a full redressal mechanism to offset the adverse downstream effects.

“We asked the NTPC to take up the 750-MW Bongaigaon Thermal Corporation Project after providing it 900 acres of fully developed land, including a township and a hospital for free. Fuel was also linked to the Assam-based coal mines and in spite of this, the actual power allocation of the BTPS to our State is pegged at 381 MW under the pretext of the Gadgil formula,” the minister said, adding that he has sought the Union Power Minister’s intervention to enhance the actual allocation of gas to the Lakwa Thermal Power Station from 0.90 MMSCMD to 1.52 MMSCMD and to the Namrup Thermal Power Station from 0.66 MMSCMD to 1.40 MMSCMD.

The minister further said that the delay in commissioning of the Central Sector projects including the 726-MW Pallatana Project, NTPC’s 750-MW BTPS, NHPC’s 2000-MW hydroelectric projects and NEEPCO’s 600-MW Kameng HEP has led to an acute power crisis in the State.

Till date, Assam has been getting only 110 MW from the No. 1 unit of the OTPC’s Pallatana GTPP. Even this unit is found to be very erratic. Moreover, because of the delay in commissioning of these projects, Assam has been forced to buy power from the market at a high cost.

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