NE should focus on thermal power: Ramesh

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Guwahati, May 3 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh said here today that Northeastern states should focus on generating thermal power as increasing reliability on hydro-power is one of the major reasons behind the region's power crisis.

Returning from ''ground breaking'' ceremony of Bongaigaon Thermal Power Station, he told mediapersons that the National Thermal Power Corporation intended to commission the three units of 750 MW project in 2011.

Announcing that the BTPS would be the first thermal power plant in the country which will have desulphurisation unit, the minister said the objective of adopting the desulphurisation plant was aimed to utilise the available coal linkages in Assam. It was not used for thermal power production because of high sulphur content.

He, however, clarified that coal with high sulphur content was better for the thermal plant as it had less ash.

He also hoped that two thermal power projects--one in Meghalaya and another in Assam--will improve the power scenario of the region.

Announcing the appointment of Mr I P Abbey as full time chairman and managing director of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (Neepco), Mr Ramesh said a number of thermal power projects would be taken up by Neepco soon.

These include a 500 MW thermal power project in Garo Hills in Meghalaya and a 480 MW Margherita thermal power project in upper Assam.

He said, ''I have already spoken to Meghalaya Power Minister Conrad Sangma who said his government was keen on the project.'' Regretting Neepco's poor performance in the last 32 years, Mr Ramesh said the present installed capacity of 1,100 MW needs to be augmented. In the next five years, apart from the Garo Hills and Margherita thermal power projects, there are plans for five more projects, which will have an installed capacity of 1400 MW. The work has already been started for these projects.

The Union Minister also asserted that while taking up these thermal power projects, environmental concerns would be addressed so that NGOs and the common people are satisfied with their functioning.

Mr Ramesh also indicated that his ministry would review the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Arunachal Pradesh and private companies like GMR and KSK in projects for which the Detailed Project Reports were prepared by Neepco.

He said, ''I want to check this MoU virus in the Northeast. How one can justify these MoUs of the state government with private companies when investigation and identification work was done by Neepco.

''I have already spoken to some of these power companies and they have agreed to include Neepco by converting it into a joint venture projects,'' he added.

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