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Friday, July 10, 2020

After Bathinda, question mark over 2 other thermal plants

Lehra Mohabbat and Ropal plants will complete 25 years in 2023-24; PSPCL has not yet clarified its stand.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Updated: June 25, 2020 1:04:23 pm
After Bathinda, question mark over 2 other thermal plants Aam Aadmi Party workers, not adhering to social distancing norms, stage a protest against the sale of land belonging to Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, in Bathinda. Express photo by Gurmeet Singh.

As protests over the closure of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), Bathinda continued in the state on Wednesday, the government’s move has now raised doubts over the future of two more thermal plants of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabbat, 25 km away from Bathinda city, and Guru Gobind Singh Thermal Plant (GGSTP) in Ropar district will complete their 25 years of existence by 2023-24. It is not clear whether they will be given further extension to operate or not. The PSPCL has not yet clarified its stand on the matter yet.

The Lehra Mohabbat plant has capacity of generating 920 MW of power, while GGSTP in Ropar can generate 840 MW.

A Venuprasad, chairman-cum-managing director, PSPCL confirmed that “both Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar thermal plants will complete their 25 years of existence by 2023-24. However, we cannot predict anything about these thermal plants as of now as it is purely a policy matter. As of now, we can talk about closure of GNDTP, Bathinda about which decision has already been taken as it was no longer a viable project.”

Sources, however, revealed that in financial year 2019-20, GGSTP produced power worth Rs 400 crore while total expenditure of this thermal plant in the same financial year was to the tune of Rs 800 crore, including salaries, maintenance etc of the plant.

“Hence, there was 50 per cent loss in this thermal plant, and in business such a loss is huge. Similar is the case with GHTP which is also incurring losses. Ultimately, these losses get converted into power tariff hike for consumer. Hence, these issues also need to be taken care of. But still 2023 is far away, and you never know will happen,”said a source.

Protests continue

On Wednesday, employees of GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat, blocked Bathinda-Barnala state highway lodging their protest against closure of GNDTP.

Meanwhile to lodge protest against closure of the Bathinda thermal plant, PSPCL employees will be burning effigies of Punjab FM Manpreet Singh Badal at sub-division level across the state on June 26, told Gursewak Singh, convener of GNDTP Employees’ Association.

In addition to this, even AAP’s local leadership staged a dharna in Bathinda against this decision on Wednesday, while SAD members had protested by burning an effigy of Manpreet Badal on Tuesday

Viability an issue

Punjab FM Manpreet Singh Badal had on Tuesday stated that flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) – an anti-pollution technology — was needed to be installed at GNDTP, otherwise Rs 18 lakh per themal plant unit was the fine for the unit and this was also not a viable option.

However, it needs to be mentioned that FGD has not been installed in any of the thermal plant of Punjab whether it is PSPCL’s or private.

CMD PSPCL said, “We are paying Rs 18 lakh per thermal plant unit penalty for GHTP and GGSTP. The private thermals at Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura must also be paying. However, they (private plants) are in the process of installation of FGD technologies as there tenders have been called for the process.”

Sources revealed PSPCL has written to government to exempt GHTP and GGSTP from FGD installation. Sources from PSPCL revealed that as of now, a decision has not been taken to install FGD technology in GGSTP and GHTP thermal plants being run by PSPCL as they are nearing their 25 years of completion.

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