—Wallamphang Roy, Managing Director, Power Carriers (India) Pvt Ltd
Tell us about the typical challenges whilst executing power transmission projects in northeast India.
Challenges in transmission line projects are just as in any other part of the country. However, northeast being a difficult terrain including plains, hills and the Himalayas covering the region, it makes executing power transmission projects more difficult due to biodiversity issues, social sensitivity and economic conditions. Northeast is also an area that is surrounded by a large international border. Sociopolitical factors also require specific considerations as the region is far diverse than the other parts of the country.
From the perspective of technology and practices, has the pace of execution of transmission projects improved over the recent years? Please discuss.
Though there has been development of technology and practices, such developments are not being executed in this part of the country in a big way. We are sure that such technology advancement can help faster execution of the project, but the social, economic and political situation in the northeast might not be conducive to the induction of such advanced technology. However, we, as a company, have been trying to upgrade and enhance our skill and technology to execute the project more effectively and efficiently.
How do you see the scope for power transmission contractors to groom into developers, in the current public-private partnership policy environment?
Power transmission contractors have to be divided into three segments—large corporations; small and medium contractors; and labour contractors. In the current scenario, large corporations are getting major contracts and they implement the same by outsourcing the same to labour contractors under the supervision of project managers.
The small and medium contractors rely on small local work or emergency work allotted by state utilities. If the PPP model is to be successful, the small and medium entities that have a structure and system need to be empowered to groom into such contractors. The unorganized labour contractor in any case will benefit from the project since the implementation has to be done at the local level. Large machinery and safety tools for power transmission projects is becoming a necessity and unless the small and medium sized contractor are in the loop, the grooming will be restricted to large corporations who in any case would not require such help.
Erection contracting is 30 per cent of the project cost. Big players in the field have monopoly in the matter and do not encourage small and medium contractors to grow in the sector. They employ unorganized and unskilled tiny or micro contractors as labour suppliers to bypass the small and medium erection contractor who have the structure and systems for being groomed.
Given that India has to substantially expand its transmission infrastructure, what specific suggestions do you have to make to enable speedy project completion?
Non-availability of funds, right-of-way challenges and climatic adversities have been major stumbling blocks for executing of transmission infrastructure projects. Our suggestion is that these concerns are to be addressed in a time-bound manner and executed with proper consideration for meeting climatic adversities. For example, monsoon hits the northeast in June and continues till October end. No work can be done due to floods and landslides, making these areas inaccessible during this period. If careful planning is done, taking into consideration all the challenges, projects can be executed better even in difficult areas. Northeast India has a huge potential for power generation and this needs to be harnessed for meeting the energy needs of the country. Development of power transmission lines is therefore of great importance.
(Note: Meghalaya-based Power Carriers (India) Pvt Ltd is a leading power transmission EPC contractor with a specialization in northeast India.)