Loktak Downstream Project in jeopardy

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Imphal, August 22 2017: With many quarters demanding decommissioning of Ithai Barrage on account of its adverse impacts on the ecology of Loktak Lake and surrounding areas, the Loktak Downstream Project is now staring at an uncertain future.

Loktak Downstream Project whose total installed power generation capacity is 66 MW was supposed to be taken up by the State Government and NHPC as a joint venture.

The project was first conceptualised in the 1980s and NHPC undertook further investigation in 1999.But the project was delayed after the NHPC Chief Engineer was shot dead.

With the hope that the State’s power deficit can be overcome with Loktak Downstream Project, the previous Government led by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi made serious efforts to initiate the project.

With a view to facilitate transportation of heavy machinery, an approach road was constructed from Tupul upto the project site.

An NHPC source said that Loktak Project would go out of service if Ithai Barrage is decommissioned.

Moreover, Loktak Downstream Project must also be dropped.

Benefits of all power projects including hydroelectric projects taken up in the North East region are shared by the North Eastern States.

Likewise, power generated by Loktak Project is shared among the North Eastern States.

At the same time, the whole North East region has been facing shortage of power.

As such, any attempt to decomission Ithai Barrage or render Loktak Project non-functional would be met with stiff opposition.

Nonetheless, Ithai Barrage may be decomissioned somehow if the BJP-led Governments of the Centre and the State have a consensus on the matter.

If the barrage is decommissioned somehow, Loktak Downstream Project must be dropped altogether, said the source.

Even notice inviting tender for Loktak Downstream Project was already issued during the time of the previous Government with a view to take up the project as soon as possible.

But only two bidders responded to the notice.

Subsequently, fresh procedures have been initiated to draw greater number of bidders.

Even a joint meeting of interested bidders was held at Delhi.

As pointed out by some interested bidders some of the terms and conditions were not acceptable, the authority concerned has been working to modify the same terms and conditions and tender for Loktak Downstream Project may be held in September.

Before executing the project, it is essential to sign a power purchase agreement.

However, the Union Power Ministry maintained that the power tariff is too high.

The Union Power Minister asked the State Government/NHPC to reduce the power tariff to Rs 5.30 per unit as Rs 400 crore would be given as grant.

On account of this disagreement, the power purchase agreement could not be signed till date.

With the fate of Ithai Barrage not known, the Union Power Ministry seems to be reluctant to sign the power purchase agreement, added the source.

Source: The Sangai Express

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