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A meeting of the 21st North Eastern Regional Power Committee (NERPC), that witnessed the participation of ministers and government officials from across the Northeastern states of India, was held at Hotel Vivor in Kohima, Nagaland on February 4.
Addressing the gathering, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that the North Eastern Region was carved out of political turmoil, social geography and ethnic consideration and till date actual infrastructural development is yet to take place.
Rio also said that the benefits of a growing economy of the Country should be shared with the small and underdeveloped States of North Eastern Region adding that "India, as a country, can truly be called a developed Country only when North Eastern Region prosper in every way."
Rio said that Power sector is no doubt one of the most complicated sectors, where there is a need to use collective wisdom to strike a proper balance between commercial needs and social obligations adding that NERPC is the most appropriate forum to discuss all such pertinent issues facing the power sector in the North Eastern Region.
The Nagaland CM remarked that the implementation of World Bank-funded project like NERPSIP (North East Region Power System Improvement Project) undertaken by the POWERGRID through the initiative of Ministry of Power, Government of India was one such programme which is going to benefit all the North Eastern States immensely.
"Through this project, the much-needed construction of Transmission lines and Sub-stations are presently in progress in many places," he said while urging upon the POWERGRID, the Implementing Agency, to speed up the work as the Tranche-I of the NERPSIP is already running behind the timeline of completion schedule and "unless it is expedited the sanction and implementation of Tranche-II will be delayed."
He said that most of the power projects in Northeast are hydro based, and due to the geological uncertainties, commissioning of hydro projects are being delayed because of which the tariffs are comparatively higher. Highlighting on the Power Scenario in Nagaland, Rio said reliable communication is a crucial factor for both system and market operation in the power sector.
However, the 66 kV systems in Nagaland which is about 60 per cent of our Intra-State Transmission system have been left out in various central schemes and for this reason, we are unable to effectively manage our Intra-State Transmission system, he said.
Rio requested the forum to recommend the proposal to the Ministry of Power (MOP) for funding of the project under the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) as a special dispensation.
Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura and Minister in charge of Power, Jishnu Dev Varma, while speaking at the event, said since its formation, the NERPC has been persistently working towards making the NRE Power System operations reliable, efficient and economical.
He also said that the implementation of India and World Bank-funded project NERPSIP is one such major infrastructure development programme to create robust power network in the northeastern states by strengthening and augmenting the intra-state transmission and distribution system.
He further hopes that the meeting will resolve many of the significant issues affecting the power sector in the Northeast region.
Meghalaya Power Minister James K. Sangma pointed that some of the projects under NERSIP are delayed with regards to setting up of Transmission Line and request the forum to find means to expedite the approval of projects as early as possible.
Sangma also said that Northeast, being the seismically - active region, geological issues such as slope failure while implementing Hydropower projects causes time and cost overruns for projects.
He urged the forum to explore new avenues for the excavation of surplus power from Northeast to Bangladesh, as it would enable Meghalaya and the other Northeastern states to trade surplus power to Bangladesh and earn additional revenue by providing a transmission corridor to Bangladesh.
Arunachal Pradesh Advisor (Power) Balo Raja urged the Union Ministry of Power to change the funding pattern under PSDF from 50:50 ratio to 100 per cent, as the funding norms of 50:50 ratio were not able to install Optical Fibre Ground Wire.
He further proposed the planners and stakeholders to carry out a feasibility study in the issue and come out with tangible policy decisions as per norms associated with international exchange electricity.
Earlier, Nagaland Advisor (Power) Tovihoto Ayemi pointed that as per the data installed by the central sector generation capacity of 3000MW for the year 2020 is a huge shortfall in our generating capacity, due to which the Northeast states are compelled to import at higher cost through Eastern and Northern grids.
Ayemi further urged the central electricity Authority to consider a special dispensation for funding left out of 66kv system under PDSF for an amount of Rs 13.09 crore and to consider funding the gap after the exit of Assam from the common facility in February 2021, as Nagaland share of Rs 3.12 crore per annum shall not be able to take additional financial burden.
(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)