“Construction is going on in full swing. We are expecting the plant to be ready for trial run in another 6-7 months.”

Setting up a 101-MW of gas-based thermal power plant at an estimated investment of Rs 623 crore is no big deal to India’s electricity business.

But for the North Eastern Electric Corporation Ltd (Neepco), the challenge was to carry power gears of that size to the hilly State of Tripura, which is bereft of necessary road or rail connectivity with rest of the country.

And, unlike the 737-MW ONGC Tripura Power, Neepco was not allowed to make amends to the India-Bangladesh transit treaty.

Road less travelled

And, on Thursday, the company cleared the test in flying colours.

BHEL, the EPC contractor of the project, completed transportation of over 28 packages of high tonnage over-dimensional cargo from Hyderabad to Monarchak - located within 500 metres from the Indo-Bangla border - in the hilly North-East state.

The job was easier than said and, took more than a year. Equipment was first brought to Kolkata to be transported by river to Karimgunj in Assam, through Bangladesh.

To ensure navigability the journey time was set in the monsoon.

Then, the equipment travelled through the hills to nearly 300 km away at Monarchak (right on the Indo-Bangla border) in Tripura, through the narrow NH-44.

It is the only land route connecting the State with the rest of the country and, according to the State Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, “the biggest hurdle for the industrial growth Tripura”.

The results are evident in the power map of Tripura, dotted with generation facilities of 20-30 MW each.

“Logistics was the only concern of this project. We are extremely happy to have achieved the milestone,” a BHEL source said.

The power gear maker is confident that erection of the plant and machinery will be smoother.

“The civil construction is over. Construction is going on in full swing. We are expecting the plant to be ready for trial run in another 6-7 months,” a BHEL official said.

And, that means Tripura will add nearly 864 MW of gas-based capacity (OTPC and Neepco) this year, making it hugely power surplus.

What is most important, the achievements of Neepco, on logistics front, may serve as examples for potential investors in Tripura.

The proposition has already attracted ONGC in committing fresh investments in setting up a fertiliser unit in the State. An agreement in this regard will be signed on April 9.

(This article was published on April 5, 2013)
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