Column : Innovative India
A gas-based power plant, even if in Tripura, is hardly the thing of headlines, yet in the year gone by, it symbolised what a PSU can do, and how this can change the shape of India’s neighbourhood were the government to follow through. In the mid-2000s, ONGC decided to set up gas-powered turbines in Tripura to utilise the gas production it had capped there as it could find no way to utilise it. When 11 company officials went to scout the route to send the turbines, it found the route too tough to negotiate, and with not enough room for 24-metre trailers which were to carry the 350 tonne turbines to turn—they needed a 12-metre turning radius – even after getting the government to sanction and then widen existing roads. The Indian Waterway Transport Treaty (IWTT) with Bangladesh offered a possible way out, but the port it allowed was of no help—Ashuganj was a better bet, but India had been trying to get this into the treaty for decades, to no avail.
ONGC hired a shipping company in Bangladesh to do some local liasoning, its official in charge of the Tripura project—RK Madan—built a rapport with Sheikh Hasina’s advisors and managed to get Ashuganj incorporated in the IWTT and then built 48 km of road in Bangladesh from Ashuganj to India after getting the government to accord permissions at a speed that would shame India—the turbines got transported
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