Chattisgarh,30 May:The first 500 MW unit of NTPC’s giant power project at Sipat in Bilaspur district of Chattisgarh went on full load today, almost a full year after it was declared commissioned. It will go fully commercial in about three weeks time. Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Commerce and Power was present, along with Shri R.S. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director of NTPC, Shri K. Ravikumar, Chairman and Managing Director of BHEL and local MPs and MLAs. The second 500 MW unit is expected to go fully commercial by October, 2008. 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. Shri Jairam Ramesh expressed his deep concern that Stage-I has been badly delayed by well over two years. He said that he had personally met with the top management of Power Machines very recently in a bid to expedite the commissioning and it is now expected that the first 660 MW unit, which will also be the first supercritical unit in the country, will be commissioned by March 31st, 2009 and go commercial three-four months thereafter. He also said that he had held detailed review meetings with NTPC and asked it to resolve all long-standing contractual disputes with Doosan and Power Machines expeditiously and amicably.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Jairam Ramesh also underscored the urgent need to change the definition of commissioning. Presently, a power project is considered commissioned when it is simply synchronised on oil, well before the other stages of (i)synchronisation on coal; (ii) full load operation; (iii) trial operation; and (iv) commercial operation declaration (COD). He emphasised that henceforth a thermal power project will have been deemed to have been commissioned only when COD has been reached.
Shri Jairam Ramesh revealed that as soon as he took over he conducted a detailed analysis and found to his shock that of the 6620 MW of thermal capacity publicly declared commissioned in 2007/08, 3810 MW of capacity (around 58%) 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 that 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.
Shri Jairam Ramesh thanked the Chattisgarh Chief Minister, Dr. 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 20th had helped break the deadlock over a Rs 14,000 crore investment. He further said that the Union Minister for Power, Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde has already announced that Chattisgarh would get at least 300 MW out of the 1000 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 will also be open to an external social audit of the implementation of its pledges on rehabilitation. He said that 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.