MeSEB Leshka project to prop up power scene in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Feb 3 (UNI) With the commissioning of the 126-Mw Myntdu Leshka hydroelectric project, the current power crisis in Meghalaya could be over by next year, the Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) sources said.

''The coming up of industries at Byrnihat and other places of the state had changed the power scene in Meghalaya from that of surplus to starving,'' and the completion of the new project would bring in relief to the power-starved state, Chief Project Manager of Myntdu Leshka Project, Elias Lyngdoh told reporters during a recent visit there.

Around 486 MW of energy will be added to the present system (600 MW approximately) of which the average yearly requirement is 1400 MU. The balance to be met from the Central grid.

The south bound river project, a first of its kind in Meghalaya, located in the southern belt which experiences early rains and hence will provide constant power even at the leanest period of the year, Mr Lyngdoh stated. Informing that all three 42 MW units of the project were scheduled to be completed by June 2009, the Project Manager said.

He said the first unit was expected to be commissioned in November-December-2008 and that will give the MeSEB a credit of being the fastest commissioned power project by a public sector undertaking anywhere in the country as per Central Electricity Authority observations.

The Leshka project, being set up at a total cost of Rs. 785.88 crore, has also proven to be economically conducive for production as it rates at Rs 6.24 crore per mega watt translating to a cost price of Rs 2.42 paise per unit of electricity consumed.

The state government was now purchasing power from outside at the rate of Rs 3.50 to Rs 10 per unit. In 2006- 2007, the state had to shell out Rs 260.52 crore to purchase 897.50 MU of power.

The project has also been of great help to the nearby villages with the MeSEB setting up water-supply schemes, constructing roads, sponsoring schools, setting up power supply lines, establishing primary health care facilities and installing telephone communication facilities in the region.

The project has also provided job opportunities to the local people and business opportunities for land owners. ''There are about 238 people employed in the project (both regular and daily wage) and about 540 contractors benefited from the project,'' he said.

All these were happening when the state government has been harping that the MeSEB was not capable of meeting the power needs of the state and hence, the move to privatise power projects was mooted.

The promised Stage Two and Umngot Hydel Power projects are said to have been taken away from the MeSEB to be handed over to private parties.

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