Agartala: India and Bangladesh must help each other to develop and achieve self-reliance in the energy sector, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Friday.
"India has been trying to help Bangladesh meet its electricity crisis by setting up a common grid along the border of the two countries," Mukherjee said, after dedicating to the nation the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation`s (ONGC) first ever commercial power project in India.
"India`s 30 crore people still remain without electricity. In the next five years, India is expected to add 88,000 MW of electricity to its existing power supply system," Mukherjee said.
The gas-based power project, set up at Palatana in southern Tripura, 60 km south of here, will resolve the power crisis of seven of the eight northeastern states as the electricity from it would be transmitted to the power-starved northeast through the national transmission grid.
The President, in a brief 10-minute speech delivered extempore, said: "Without the help of Bangladesh, transportation of the heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana project could not be possible, if that country did not allow their territory to ferry these heavy machineries."
From this power plant Assam will get the maximum share of 240 MW of electricity followed by Tripura (196 MW), Meghalaya (79 MW), Manipur (42 MW), Nagaland (27 MW), Mizoram (22 MW) and Arunachal Pradesh (22 MW), while Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL & FS) and ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) keep 98 MW.
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M Veerappa Moily, in his speech, said: "As huge natural gas reserves are found in Tripura and the state would soon be power surplus, it will lead India to attain energy independence in the near future."
Tripura Governor Devanand Konwar, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Panabaka Lakshmi, Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey, ONGC CMD Sudhir Vasudeva, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tariq A. Karim and others were present at the inaugural function.
State-owned ONGC`s 726 MW gas-based combined cycle power plant at Palatana began generating electricity on a trial basis from its first 363 MW unit on October 22 last year.
The second 363 MW unit would likely start operations by August this year.
To set up the Rs10,000-crore power plant, including transmission lines, ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) was floated by ONGC, the Tripura government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Service Limited (IL&FS), an infrastructure and financial service organisation.
The Palatana project is a hallmark of cooperation between India and Bangladesh, which ensured smooth passage of heavy project equipment and turbines to Palatana through its territory by road and waterways, from Haldia port in West Bengal.
"A 400KV high transmission power line (660 km) has been drawn up to Silchar in southern Assam from Palatana to connect with the Bongaigaon national grid in western Assam to distribute the electricity to various northeastern states," OTPC managing director Sudhindra Kumar Dube said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone of the power project in October 2005.