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Engineer�s abduction may hit NE power transmission projects

By R Dutta choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 18 � The recent kidnapping of an engineer working in a project of the Power Grid Corporation of India may seriously affect the ongoing process of augmenting the power transmission lines to the North East region as the incident has affected the morale of those working in the projects and the works virtually came to a standstill in the last couple of days.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the Power Grid engaged a number of companies for implementation of the projects and it is always difficult for the companies to get experienced project engineers to work in this part of the country because of the law and order situation. Sources said that the recent kidnapping of P Raju, an engineer of a joint venture company from Baska by militants belonging to the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) has affected the morale of those working in the projects and if the situation does not improve soon, implementation of all the projects of upgrading the power transmission system would be affected.

Sources said that the State Government or the Power Grid Corporation were not aware whether the company, for which Raju was working, received any demand note from the militants, but police is of the view that the company must have received demands from the militants. Though a manhunt has been launched to trace out the kidnapped person, so far the efforts have not yielded the desired results. It is suspected that the kidnapped person must have been taken towards the international border with Bhutan.

Giving details of the ongoing Power Grid projects in the State, sources said that the project, in which the kidnapped engineer was working, is the Bongaigaon-Balipara transmission line, which will be vital for transmission of power to the rest of the State immediately after the 750 MW power project being commissioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is completed.

Sources said that the Power Grid is also commissioning a pulling station at Biswanath Chariali for drawing power from the Kameng project of the NEEPCO and Lower Subansiri project. The station will also be able to pull power from the other power projects that are coming up in Arunachal Pradesh in the days to come. The line from Balipara will connect Assam with the rest of the country as there is a major need for a second line. Sources pointed out that last year, Assam faced severe power crisis for 15 days after two towers of the existing line was damaged and there is a need for augmenting the transmission system to have a second line so that Assam does not face any such problem in future.

Official sources said that the Power Grid is also setting up a pulling station at Alipurduar to draw power from Bhutan and Sikkim. However, it is still not known whether the Power Ministry will allot power drawn from Bhutan and Sikkim to Assam.

The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) is opposing the setting up of the line for transmission of power from Lower Subansiri project, but sources said that the same line can be used for drawing power from other projects that are coming up in Arunachal Pradesh. The Power Grid officials are likely to hold talks with the AASU in this regard soon.

Another line from Ranganadi project to Balipara is being implemented, while, the Power Grid has received clearance from the Forest Ministry for the setting up of the line from Kameng project to Bishwanath Chariali. Another substation is being set up in Morioni to connect to Murkokchung. All these major projects may be affected if the Government fails to ensure security of the people working in the projects.

Meanwhile, Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi, when contacted, said that the incidents like the kidnapping of project engineer will affect the efforts to build up capacity to improve power transmission. �We are in touch with the police and efforts are on to rescue the kidnapped engineer,� he added.

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Engineer�s abduction may hit NE power transmission projects

GUWAHATI, Feb 18 � The recent kidnapping of an engineer working in a project of the Power Grid Corporation of India may seriously affect the ongoing process of augmenting the power transmission lines to the North East region as the incident has affected the morale of those working in the projects and the works virtually came to a standstill in the last couple of days.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the Power Grid engaged a number of companies for implementation of the projects and it is always difficult for the companies to get experienced project engineers to work in this part of the country because of the law and order situation. Sources said that the recent kidnapping of P Raju, an engineer of a joint venture company from Baska by militants belonging to the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) has affected the morale of those working in the projects and if the situation does not improve soon, implementation of all the projects of upgrading the power transmission system would be affected.

Sources said that the State Government or the Power Grid Corporation were not aware whether the company, for which Raju was working, received any demand note from the militants, but police is of the view that the company must have received demands from the militants. Though a manhunt has been launched to trace out the kidnapped person, so far the efforts have not yielded the desired results. It is suspected that the kidnapped person must have been taken towards the international border with Bhutan.

Giving details of the ongoing Power Grid projects in the State, sources said that the project, in which the kidnapped engineer was working, is the Bongaigaon-Balipara transmission line, which will be vital for transmission of power to the rest of the State immediately after the 750 MW power project being commissioned by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is completed.

Sources said that the Power Grid is also commissioning a pulling station at Biswanath Chariali for drawing power from the Kameng project of the NEEPCO and Lower Subansiri project. The station will also be able to pull power from the other power projects that are coming up in Arunachal Pradesh in the days to come. The line from Balipara will connect Assam with the rest of the country as there is a major need for a second line. Sources pointed out that last year, Assam faced severe power crisis for 15 days after two towers of the existing line was damaged and there is a need for augmenting the transmission system to have a second line so that Assam does not face any such problem in future.

Official sources said that the Power Grid is also setting up a pulling station at Alipurduar to draw power from Bhutan and Sikkim. However, it is still not known whether the Power Ministry will allot power drawn from Bhutan and Sikkim to Assam.

The All Assam Students� Union (AASU) is opposing the setting up of the line for transmission of power from Lower Subansiri project, but sources said that the same line can be used for drawing power from other projects that are coming up in Arunachal Pradesh. The Power Grid officials are likely to hold talks with the AASU in this regard soon.

Another line from Ranganadi project to Balipara is being implemented, while, the Power Grid has received clearance from the Forest Ministry for the setting up of the line from Kameng project to Bishwanath Chariali. Another substation is being set up in Morioni to connect to Murkokchung. All these major projects may be affected if the Government fails to ensure security of the people working in the projects.

Meanwhile, Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi, when contacted, said that the incidents like the kidnapping of project engineer will affect the efforts to build up capacity to improve power transmission. �We are in touch with the police and efforts are on to rescue the kidnapped engineer,� he added.

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