GUWAHATI, May 21 � For an energy starved State it appears as an enigma waiting to be explained. Years after it was planned and was drafted into a cabinet memorandum, the proposed 250 MW Margherita Power Project continues to be in limbo.
Various reasons have been cited for the delay in its execution, but the State Power Department is yet to take any tangible measure to push for the project that contained clear locational advantages. Being a thermal power project it would also have provided stable power unlike a hydel project dependent of water level.
The project was to be located close to a coal field reducing cost of carriage, and had provision for expansion up to 1,000 MW depending on the availability of coal. Significantly, the total power to be allocated to Assam was 199.5 MW. The remaining power of 50.5 MW was to be allocated to neighbouring NE states.
From the angle of employment, the project would have created jobs for engineers and other skilled personnel from the region.
Official documents indicate that the Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL) and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) had finalized a Joint Venture Agreement after a series of discussions and a draft was forwarded to the Assam Government for consideration and approval.
In an official communication dated November 21, 2008, the Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Power, Government of Assam, wrote to the Chairman ASEB that the Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited �may proceed with the acquisition of the proposed land covering an area of 1600 bighas for the proposed 250 MW coal based joint venture power project at Margherita and take advance possession�.
In a subsequent development, Sumeet Jerath, Principal Secretary to the Government of Assam, Power Department wrote a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Government of India. In the communication dated November 15, 2011, he made a request for coal linkage from North Eastern Coal Fields of Coal India Limited at Margherita.
The Principal Secretary mentioned that commissioning of the green field pit head Margherita Thermal Power Project would help Assam in bridging its demand and supply gaps in energy.
For some time, the delay of the project was attributed to low availability of coal to sustain the thermal power plant. But documents available with The Assam Tribune reveal facts contrary to it. According to North Eastern Coalfields, Coal India Limited, the proved coal reserve of Assam was 314.59 million tones as on Jan 2006.