August 11, 2008

Barh Thermal Power Plant in a Limbo

By Pranava K Chaudhary

PATNA: The much publicised super-thermal power project of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) at Barh is in a limbo. It is unlikely to start power generation by 2011.

The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone of this ambitious project (660x3 MW) in 1999 amidst much fanfare at Barh.

The Union ministry of power has set up a committee to look into the irregularities in awarding the contract for purchasing boiler for this plant. A Russia-based company has asked the GOI to sign a fresh contract order at an enhanced rate due to the cost escalation, sources said.

Sources also pointed out that the NTPC had signed a contract on fixed valueprice. Due to delay in the project, the cost of boiler and its equipment haveshot up. So the matter is pending before the Centre. The matter will be expedited only after obtaining the report of the expert committee, said an official.

In fact, the civil work has already been completed at the site. The NTPC hasalready failed to achieve its target of commissioning the first unit of themega power project estimated to cost Rs 8,000 crore by 2005.

The plant is located barely four kilometres east of the Barh town on National Highway-31 in Patna district. The main power plant and the township would be spread over an area of 1,186.01 acres while the remaining 1,733.17 acres of land would be kept for ash dyke.

The legal possession of 1,186.01 acres of land has been acquired for setting up the main power plant and its township which includes 12 villages.

Union minister of state for power Jairam Ramesh during his recent visit to Bihar had visited the plant site. Barh plant is one of the favourite projects of CM Nitish Kumar. During the NDA regime, Vajpayee had laid the foundation stone when Kumar was the railway minister.

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