New Delhi: A critical power transmission project to connect the North-East with the rest of the country has been delayed because Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd, or PGCIL, the central power transmission utility, is yet to award major contracts for the project, officials said.
The scheme, also called the chicken-neck project, involves setting up a transmission corridor with an investment of around Rs11,000 crore. India plans to set up three more such transmission corridors to link projects based in the North-East and rest of India at a total investment of Rs33,000 crore.
While orders for setting up of transmission links for the project have been awarded, orders for the three terminals that convert electricity from alternating current to direct current (DC) and vice-versa are yet to be placed. The order value for the terminals is around Rs4,500 crore.
“The tenders for the (transmission) lines have been issued while the terminal tender has been delayed. The companies which have the technology for this terminal are ABB, Areva and Siemens,” said a senior PGCIL executive, who didn’t want to be identified.
The high-voltage DC lines tendered will have a capacity to withstand variations of surge and decline in power transmission of the order of 800kV—almost double that of existing capacities. This 2,000km link will also reduce transmission losses.
“At this voltage level, it’s not been done anywhere in the world. We plan to set up four corridors of 6,000MW each. The terminal tender is expected in June,” said another PGCIL executive, who too did not want to be identified.
The total hydropower generation potential of the North-East and Bhutan is about 58,000MW. With demand in the region expected to go up to around 12,000MW, the transmission capacity of the new system works out to be around 46,000MW. Experts fear that a delay in awarding the project will also affect the creation of power generation capacity in the region.
Says Kuljit Singh, a partner at accounting firm Ernst and Young: “The link is very important as a lot of capacity is proposed in the North-East. A large amount of projects in the private sector are also getting delayed. So even if a part of the link comes up, which may be sufficient to cater to the public sector capacity, it will be okay.”
The project was to move power (or “evacuate it” as this is called) from the NHPC Ltd’s project at Subansiri on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border as reported by Mint on 12 November 2007.
Once all contracts are awarded, the transmission project is expected to be completed within four years.
“It is a large project and has to be mapped in accordance with the demand for transfer of power. We are mapping the hydropower generation programme so that these links are in sync,” said the second PGCIL executive.