First 500 MW of Sipat project reaches full load

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New Delhi, May 30 (UNI) The first 500 MW unit of NTPC's giant power project at Sipat in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh went on full load today, nearly a year after commissioning.

It will go fully commercial in about three weeks' time.

Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh, who was present on the occasion, underscored the urgent need to change the definition of commissioning, saying that henceforth a thermal project will be deemed to have been commissioned only when commercial operation declaration (COD) has been reached.

The second 500 MW unit will become fully commercial by October this year. Both the 500 MW units use boilers and turbines manufactured by BHEL.

The two 500 MW units form Stage-II of the project, while three supercritical 660 MW units form Stage-I.

The boilers for these 660 MW units are being supplied by the South Korean company, Doosan and the turbines by the Russian firm Power Machines.

The Minister revealed that as soon as he took over he conducted a detailed analysis and found to his shock that of the 6,620 MW of thermal capacity publicly declared commissioned in 2007-08, 3,810 MW of capacity (around 58 per cent) has yet to reach COD stage till now.

This, he said, reflects poorly on the entire supply chain -- on BHEL, on other main plant suppliers, on suppliers of key balance of plant equipment like coal and ash handling plants, on civil works contractors and also on owners themselves -- and is simply an unacceptable state of affairs.

He said this policy of declaring a unit commissioned based purely on synchronisation on oil has been in vogue for over two decades just so that targets are shown to have been met. This will no longer be the case.

He recalled that CEA itself had recommended to the Union Ministry of Power the changed definition of commissioning in a report submitted in September 2007.

Referring to the two-year delay in Stage-I, Mr Ramesh said he had personally met the top management of Power Machines recently in a bid to expedite the commissioning.

The first 660 MW unit, which will also be the first supercritical unit in the country, will now be commissioned by March 31, 2009 and go commercial three-four months thereafter.

He said he had held detailed review meetings with NTPC and asked it to resolve expeditiously all long-standing contractual disputes with Doosan and Power Machines.

Calling for a change in the definition of commissioning, Mr Ramesh pointed out that at present, a power project is considered commissioned when it is simply synchronised on oil, well before the other stages of synchronisation on coal, full load operation, trial operation and commercial operation declaration (COD).

But henceforth, a thermal power project will be deemed to have been commissioned only when COD has been reached, Mr Ramesh added.

He thanked Chief Minister Raman Singh for his cooperation in getting the prestigious Sipat project going by providing water from the Hasdeo Banjo project as originally planned.

His meeting with Dr Raman Singh on April 20 had helped break the deadlock over a Rs 14,000 crore investment. He further said the Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has announced that Chhattisgarh would get at least 300 MW out of the 1,000 MW Stage-II capacity.

Meeting with representatives of project-affected families and local NGOs, he reiterated that NTPC is fully committed to implementing the rehabilitation action plan that had been jointly agreed to with the state that includes, among other things, compensation and employment and technical training to local youth.

NTPC Chairman and Managing Director R S Sharma, BHEL CMD K Ravi Kumar and local MPs and MLAs were also present.

NTPC will also be open to an external social audit of the implementation of its pledges on rehabilitation.

The Minister said NTPC has also asked the Central Water Commission to conduct a detailed techno-economic study on the feasibility of developing alternative sources of water supply for the power project complex in order to meet the concerns of the state government.

This study will be completed in about three months' time, he added.


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