20 Sep :The 2×660 Mw second stage of NTPC’s mega-power project at Barh near Patna, Bihar was launched today by the Minister of State of Commerce and Power, Shri Jairam Ramesh. Both the supercritical 660 Mw units are being supplied by BHEL and these will be the first such units for the PSU.
The total investment is pegged at Rs 7340 crores. The first 660 Mw unit will be commissioned in March 2012 and the second 660 Mw unit will be commissioned in January 2013. The Minister inaugurated the site office of BHEL as well.
Barh Stage-I begun in February 2005 is 3×660 Mw but it is considerably behind schedule mainly because of long-standing contractual disputes between NTPC and the Russian company Technopromexport (TPE) which is the turnkey contractor for the project. TPE is supplying the boilers and another Russian company Power Machines is supplying the turbine-generators. Unit 1 was supposed to have been commissioned by March 2009 but the current anticipated date is January 2011. The other two units are also delayed by over two years. The total cost of Stage-I is Rs 8700 crores, of which roughly Rs 3000 crores has already been spent. Material supply for the first unit is almost complete but erection work has yet to begin.
For the past few months, NTPC has been in dialogue with TPE to sort out the disputes over price and time escalations and get work resumed at the site. But there has been no breakthrough and Shri Jairam Ramesh said that NTPC has now given time to TPE till September 24th before it starts adjudication proceedings as provided for in the contract. Shri Jairam Ramesh also added that is a matter of the deepest regret that such a prestigious project has had to witness such delays and that he has personally intervened from time to time to ensure that the project is back on stream. This was his second visit to Barh in the last five months.
When all five 660 Mw units are fully functional, the Barh project spread over around 3200 acres will be the single largest power generating complex of NTPC. Over 98% of the land has already been acquired. The associated transmission system is being implemented by PGCIL. The foundation stone for the project had been laid by Shri Atal Bihari Vaypayee, the then Prime Minister of India way back in March 1999. The entire Barh saga is a very commentary on project implementation in the public sector, Shri Jairam Ramesh said after the visit to the project site along with senior officials of NTPC and BHEL. He added that the saga is still continuing.