Goa not for private & nuclear power

| 22 February 2000 15:02 IST

Goa has decided not to go for private power generation within as well as drawing nuclear power from across the border, both for one reason – the unaffordable price of it.

The tiny coastal state is primarily dependent on the national grid to meet its power requirement except for a 50 MW mini private power generation plant commissioned last year, though it cannot even meet one sixth of the state's requirement.

On the contrary, industrial development of the tourist state has come to a grinding halt as the court has not fully lifted the ban on power connections. The problem had arisen after allowing power guzzlers like ferro alloy units in a clandestine manner.

Kaiga nuclear power station was looked upon as a great hope as it would be available just across the border in Karnataka. "We cannot afford their prices - Rs 4.50 per unit -when we get it for Rs 1.40 from the NTPC", states Digambar Kamat, the power minister.

Similar is the case with the private naphtha-based plant owned by the Reliance Salgaocar Co Pvt Ltd as the state is paying around Rs 150 crore annually for the 30 crore units it purchases at the rate of Rs 5 per unit. Paying Rs four crore more, Goa however can purchase not less than 110 crore units from the NTPC.

"Due to this price difference, our average cost of power purchase goes up to Rs 3.05", informs Kamat. Admitting that the power department is presently running into loss due to this, he has taken a challenge of once again making it a revenue generating department.

He appears hopeful since almost eight power guzzlers have wound up their business from Goa after their pilferage rackets were brought to light while three have still remained. The state's transmission and distribution losses are however still as high as 25 per cent.

Moreover, Kamat hopes to wheel in 100 MW more power from the NTPC, besides 180 MW the state has been drawing from Karnataka and Maharashtra. While power requirement is shooting up day by day, necessary infrastructure was not built to draw the full allotment from the NTPC all these years.

As three capacitors installed recently would increase Goa's power transmission capacity by 10 per cent, upgradation of two sub-stations at Ponda and Sheldem would make the state capable of drawing 100 MW more from two different places by April.

The state government is also trying hard to begin the work of Colvale sub-station in North Goa by April end, so that its estimated completion by 2002 would help drawing equal amount of additional power from Kolhapur.

But to overcome the financial crisis the department is facing, he is left with no solution but to hike the tariff further. "The power advisory committee would finalise it by 15 March, along with a policy on privately run captive power generation", states Kamat.

By the month end, the government is also planning to approach the high court with a request to allow and release all the pending applications, claiming that the state is now in a position to do so. The court, after 19-month long ban, had partially lifted the ban in December, releasing power in stages till February.

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