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Manarchak : NEEPCO blames ONGC for red tape, delays
Manarchak : NEEPCO blames ONGC for red tape, delays

AGARTALA, June 20 (TIWN): NEEPCO General Manager & Head of Project S.R.Biswas today informed that NEEPCO Manarchak Project have been delayed repeatedly due to lack of preparedness of ONGC in delivering gas to NEEPCO project.

 The Government of India accorded approval for execution of Tripura Gas Based Power Project at Monarchak in Tripura at estimated cost of Rs 623 crore at June 2009 price level. The approval was accorded based on ONGC’s commitment for making available 0.5 MMSCUMD of natural gas to the Project. The EPC contract for implementation of Monarchak Project was awarded to BHEL and the construction works commenced in Dec 2011. After commencing the Project construction works, NEEPCO, implementation agency, kept ONGC well informed of the progress of works from time to time on regular basis with a view that ONGC could make needful arrangements and planning to commence gas supply matching with readiness of the Project for commissioning the Gas Turbine on open cycle mode. Apart from regular communications from NEEPCO’s Project authority, the matter was taken up by CMD and Director (Technical) of NEEPCO repeatedly with CMD and Director (Onshore) of ONGC from as early as April 2012. In all such communications NEEPCO kept ONGC informed of progress of the Project and expressed concern for absolute deadlock in progress of works on ONGC facilities for commencement of gas supply. In spite of regular communications from NEEPCO, ONGC kept on maintaining absolute silence and the works of pipeline laying, setting up of GGS at Khedabri and terminal facilities at Monarchak remained suspended. Even no communication was received from ONGC intimating their planning. This would seem to suggest a very casual approach on the part of ONGC which may be construed as abuse of their dominant / monopolistic position in so far as gas supply is concerned.

The gas turbine of Monarchak Project was made ready in Sept 2013 for commencing commissioning activities. It was put on record that after receipt of gas NEEPCO would require around two months time to synchronize the gas turbine on open cycle mode. The breach of contract by ONGC has made the commissioning utterly uncertain.

In regards to readiness of NEEPCO Plant it is clarified that all works related to Gas Turbine has been completed barring some finer adjustment works which will be carried out during commissioning activities subsequent to receipt of gas. ONGC has been referring to non completion of the works in some areas which are related to commissioning of steam turbine unit. These works shall continue even after the gas turbine is commissioned. ONGC officers are, perhaps, not aware of provision of diversion damper in the Monarchak system which enables the Project to be operated on open cycle mode. This feature is unlike OTPC Palatana, where boiler is to be in operation in order to run the gas turbine. Operation of the gas turbine unit in open cycle mode is as per approval accorded by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs of Government of India.

It is seen that ONGC, instead of taking needful action for commencing the suspended works, is more concerned with attempt to falsely prove that NEEPCO Project is not ready for taking gas. In this connection it is emphasized that ONGC has no authority to intervene in the matter of readiness of NEEPCO Project or otherwise. NEEPCO welcomes any independent authority to inspect the works of the Project and commits to pass on relevant information with absolute transparency.

The Ministry of Power, Government of India deputed Chief Engineer, Central Electricity Authority and a consultant of the Ministry of Power in the month of May, 2014 to make an on-the-spot assessment of status of the Project. These independent authorities submitted their report endorsing readiness of NEEPCO Plant for receiving gas and commence commissioning activities of Gas Turbine Unit on open cycle mode.

As per some media reports,  Asset Manager, ONGC Tripura Asset has claimed that the turbines of Monarchak Project are “just en-route to Agartala”. This statement is far from truth and it is clarified that both gas turbine and steam turbine were received at site one and a half year back and both the turbines have also been erected as can be easily verified by a physical visit to the Plant. The observation of ONGC on non readiness of fire fighting system is also far from truth. Such derogatory and misleading comment from ONGC is highly uncalled for particularly from officers holding position of responsibility.

Some local dailies reported that the ONGC has raised the issue of consumption of high quantum of gas by smaller units of NEEPCO Project as well as the Gas Turbine units of Rokhia and Baramura of TSECL. In this connection may all concerned know that the Project with smaller capacities have been approved by the Government of India knowing fully well that specific gas consumption for smaller gas turbines is much higher than that of bigger units. Thus, such comment amounts to questioning the decision of Cabinet of the Government of India which, we feel, is beyond all reasonable jurisdiction of any officer of ONGC. It is also obvious that when there is a valid agreement that ONGC would supply 0.5 MMSCUMD of gas to Monarchak Project there is no validity for such statement.

To sum up, NEEPCO strongly feels that ONGC should concentrate their attention to the works under their jurisdiction instead of commenting upon works of NEEPCO, which is beyond their mandate. The attitude of ONGC in relating the delay in supply of gas with status of NEEPCO Project works is not only grossly unreasonable but also indicates lack of responsibility as the loss to be incurred against NEEPCO’s investment in the Project is a loss of public investment of around Rs 950 crore. 

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