NTPC-AssamNine years after its foundation stone was laid, NTPC finally started generation from the Bongaigaon power project in Assam. The Central power generation utility announced that the first unit of the 3×250-mw coal-fired plant was test-synchronized with the northeastern regional grid on June 23, 2015. For NTPC, the Bongaigaon project is significant as it marks the utility’s first footprint not just in Assam but entire northeast India. For Assam, the Rs.4,375-crore project on full completion will mean 380 mw of additional power allocation.
The foundation stone for the project at Salakati in Kokrajhar district was laid at the and of then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in January 2006. The project is coming up on land of the defunct Bongaigaon plant of Assam State Electricity Board.The project was then expected to fully commission by 2011-12 but inordinate delays in the construction phase pushed ahead the deadline many times. The project was dogged by a host of impediments including frequent bandhs, exodus of labour force, frequent clashes between local ethnic groups, and heavy monsoon. Civil works were hampered seriously cascading into delays in installing the main plant machinery.
In 2014, private contractors for civil works—SPML Infra and Punj Lloyd—were blamed for the slow pace of works. Even as both contractors attributed the delay to the prevailing unrest in the project area, NTPC cancelled both the contracts valued together at some Rs.550 crore. However, no other private contractor could be appointed given the poor law and order conditions at the project site. The balance civil works, for the first power unit of 250 mw, were finally entrusted with Assam Public Works Department. Bharat Heavy Electricals is supplying the main plant package.The project will use coal from the Makum coal mines in the Margherita of Assam and other coal fields spread over West Bengal and Jharkhand. It is learnt that since coal available in northeast India has high sulphur content, NTPC had decided to use desulphurization technology for the Bongaigaon plant, which at that time was unprecedented in India. With the commissioning of the first unit of the Bongaigaon project, the total installed capacity of NTPC, including its joint ventures, has crossed 45 GW.


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