Meghalaya to get 42 MW power from Unit I
From Our Correspondent
JOWAI: Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma on Wednesday inaugurated the first unit of the 126 MW Myntdu Leshka Hydro Electric Project (MLHEP) in Jaintia Hills district, executed by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL).
Beside Dr Sangma, Union Minister of State for Water Resources Development and Minority Affairs, Vincent H Pala, Power Minister AT Mondal, Wahiajer MLA Sniawbhalang Dhar, Local MLA Lahkmen Rymbui, Nongstoin MLA Hoppingstone Lyngdoh, Government Chief Whip Ronnie V Lyngdoh, Chief Secretary WMS Pariat, JHADC Chief Lamdibok Sumer, besides others including MeECL engineers and Staffs, local headmen of the area, JHADC MDCs and other invitees were also present at the inauguration.
With the inauguration of the first unit, the power-starved State will now get 42 MW of valuable power.
In his inaugural speech, the Chief Minister complimented the MeECL for successfully confronting all unforeseen challenges that has delayed the project.
“Such unforeseen challenges during the construction of the project would help engineers and staff of the MeECL to gain more experiences in order to be more efficient and competent,” Dr Sangma said, adding that people of the State would be happier if all three units of the project could be commissioned at the same time, even as he hoped that commissioning of Unit II and Unit III of the project would not be dogged by any additional delay.
“We are a power deficit State so power sector is very crucial and everyone in this sector must ensure efficiency. We should find out inefficiencies and correct them instead of being defensive,” Dr Sangma stated.
“Meghalaya has the potential to produce about 3000 MW of power,” he said, while expressing hope that with the State Power Policy 2007, Meghalaya would be able to make use of the potentiality.
Chief Project Manager of the project, Elias Lyngdoh, while narrating brief history of the project informed that the project was delayed due to various circumstances.
“The MeECL got the final forest clearance from the Ministry of Forest and Environment in May 2004 but due to heavy rainfall the work could start only in October 2004,” Lyngdoh said, adding that in October 2009 and in May 2010, the power house was ravaged by natural calamities including flash floods which disrupted the progress of the work.
It may be noted that the project was initially conceived at an estimated cost of Rs 363.08 crore with no provision for escalation. Later in 2007, the project cost was increased to Rs 671.20 crore. Again in 2008, the third unit was added to the project at a cost of Rs 114.59 crore.
The two major floods in October 2009 and May 2010 not only delayed the project but it also increased the project cost to Rs 1173.13 crore including the cost of overrun and the damages due to the floods.
Meanwhile, the project engineer also informed that Unit II and Unit II of the project would be launched tentatively by March.
The project’s history dates back to 1975-76 when investigation work of the project was taken up by the then MeSEB. But it took another 23 years for the Board to prepare a Detailed Project Report, which was finally sent to the Central Electricity Authority for clearance in October 1998.
The public hearing for Environmental Clearance, technical and forest clearance took another three years.
MeECL accorded administrative approval the next year in 2002 and the foundation stone was laid by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam. A five-year deadline was set for completion of the project in 2007 which was revised time and again until Wednesday. (With inputs from agencies)