Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NHPC would control Baglihar too

State Didn’t Pay Rs 18 Cr To Train Local Engineers For Maintenance, But Will Pay NHPC Rs 120 Cr Annually

Srinagar, Apr 15: The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to hand over the control of 450 megawatt Baglihar power project; the first state owned power project, to National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) for maintenance and operation, highly placed sources told Greater Kashmir on Wednesday. The move has evoked severe criticism from top officials in Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation who believe that the Corporation has the potential to run the project, sources said.
The decision to handover Baglihar’s control to NHPC was taken a meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation Board headed by chief minister Omar Abdullah last month, sources said.
“The NHPC would charge Rs 120 crore annually for maintenance and operation of the project for two years,” sources said, adding the corporation is waiting for allocation of the money before formally taking over the charge. It has been reliably learnt that the commissioner secretary power has played pivotal role in pushing the deal through, sources said.
“The NHPC was eying the Baglihar, set up on the river Chenab in between the two power projects, Dul Hasti and Salal, both of which are the central owned projects run by NHPC. The corporation has its interests directly associated with the two projects,” sources said adding, “With Baglihar sandwiched between Dul Hasti and Salal, the NHPC will have now full control when to release the water from Dul Hasti to Baglihar and Baglihar to Salal for power generation at the cost of state owned project.”
Criticizing the move by the government, a senior official in the power ministry said that there was a standing offer from Hyderabad based Precision Engineering Services, which had carried out major electro-mechanical works of the project to maintain and operate it at a cost of Rs 3 crore annually. “The government could have easily outsourced the service contract to the Company which in turn would have been beneficial for the state,” he said.
The construction of the Baglihar involved two types of works, civil and electro-mechanical. While the former was carried out by the renowned company Jai Prakash (JP), the contract for the latter was taken by Voith & Seimens at cost of Rs 700 crore and they had involved the Precision Engineering Service.
“It had actually implemented the electro-mechanical works of the Baglihar on ground, and obliviously they are well aware with all the technicalities of the project in comparison to the NHPC,” said the official adding the company had involved experts from the JKPDC for carrying out the works.
The official said the state power ministry had sufficient talent available to run successfully the project like Baglihar. “As far as the operation of the project is concerned it can be easily done by our engineers. Twenty people are sufficient to operate it in four shifts round the clock. In fact at present the Baglihar was successfully operated by four to five local engineers,” the official said.
For maintenance, the official said the local engineers could have been trained to run the Baglihar but same was not done for past nine years since the work on the Baglihar was commissioned. In 2005 the PDC had advertised 100 posts of junior engineers out of which a lot was to be picked up for training them to maintain the project, he said.
“The interviews were held, selection process was conducted but the then managing director JKPDC, presently commissioner secretary power withheld the list without any reason and ultimately the process was shelved,” the official said.
“It seems a conspiracy is being hatched at some levels to prove that Baglihar is a failure and state has no potential either to set up or manage the power projects independently,” sources said the daily income of the project is more than Rs 2 crore. “At any cost Baglihar should have been the priority of the government.”
Siemens, a premier company in the international power generation sector, had assured the state government that it will train its engineers in six months for operation and maintenance of Baglihar while charging a monthly fee of Rs three crore. “We could have got the skilled manpower in six months for Rs 18 crore but the government shelved the offer,” the official said.
With the commissioning of the first phase of Baglihar, the state’s power generation has reached 759 MW which is more than the cumulative 309 MW generated in the state during the last 60 years. Even the power purchase bill of JK would get reduced by Rs 400 crore once state clear its debts, as 50 percent of the power generated from Baglihar was scheduled to go towards debt servicing for the initial period of 10 years.
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