Tripura eyes Bangladesh market for selling power

Rokhia (Tripura): Tripura is keen to supply at least 100 MW of electricity to energy-starved Bangladesh as the northeast Indian state will be power surplus by February, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar has said.

“Tripura is ready to supply at least 100 MW of power to Bangladesh if the central government allows the state government,” Sarkar said at a public gathering last week after inaugurating a 21 MW power project at western Tripura’s Rokhia, three kilometers away from the Bangladesh border and 50 km south of Agartala.

He said : “Bangladesh badly needs electricity for domestic, industrial and irrigation purposes. We must cooperate with Bangladesh, because it is our best friendly neighbour.”

Sarkar, who was bestowed with Muktijuddhaaward in 2012 by the Bangladesh government for his role in the 1971 Liberation War, said that Bangladesh helped India a lot to carry heavy machinery and turbines through its territories for the Palatana power project (726 MW) in Tripura.

Quoting media reports, the chief minister said that the present Bangladesh government has generated additional 3,000 MW power in the last three years, but this was inadequate for a country with a population of around 200 million.

According to Sarkar, after the commissioning of the 726 MW Palatana and 104 MW Monarchak power projects by February next year, Tripura’s availability of electricity would be 410 MW against its current peak-hour demand of 240 MW.

“If we help our best neighbour in all respects, then relations between India and Bangladesh would be closer and helpful and both the nations can grow further,” said Sarkar, a member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is commissioning its biggest ever commercial power project (726 MW) at Palatana in southern Tripura (60 km south of Agartala) while the state-run North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) is setting up a 104 MW power project at Monarchak in western Tripura (70 km south of Agartala) and eight km from the India-Bangladesh border.

Both the gas-based combined cycle power projects (for which water would be used to generate electricity) are expected to start full capacity generation by February or latest by March next year.

Tripura will get all the power generated by NEEPCO’s Rs.950-crore Monarchak power project while electricity generated from the Palatana power project will be shared by Assam (240 MW), Tripura (196 MW), Meghalaya (79 MW), Manipur (42 MW), Nagaland (27 MW), and Mizoram (22 MW).

The ONGC, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) and the Tripura government jointly floated ONGC Tripura Power Company limited (OTPC) to set up the Rs.10,000-crore Palatana power plant, for which the foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in October 2005.

The IL&FS and OTPC will keep 98 MW power for themeselves to sell it to suitable consumers.

After the dedication of the Palatana power project to the nation by President Pranab Mukherjee June 21, technical snags were found in the 53-km gas pipeline, laid by the ONGC to supply gas to the power plant.

ONGC engineers and experts are working round-the-clock to start full generation of electricity from the power project at the earliest.

The Palatana project is a hallmark of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, which ensured the smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana through its territory by road and waterways from Haldia port in West Bengal.

by Sujit Chakraborty (IANS)

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