Power Ministry Forms High-level Team To Inspect Dabhol Project

New Delhi, September 25: | Updated: Sep 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Power ministry has constituted a high-level team comprising of officials from General Electric (GE), Bechtel, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), IDBI-led domestic lenders and Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) to carry a in-depth inspection of the troubled Dabhol power project in Maharashtra.

When contacted, power secretary RV Shahi told FE that the team would shortly visit the plant, may be within a week, for carrying out the inspection and access the present status of the plant. They will prepare a preliminary inspection report and will also identify the time schedule to restart this project at the earliest, Mr Shahi said.

The decision to constitute the team was taken at a meeting, chaired by Mr Shahi and attended by NTPCs chairman and managing director CP Jain, Central Electricity Authority (CEA) chairman HL Bajaj and president and COO of GE India, Scott R Bayman, senior officials from IDBI and MSEB.

A final decision on the visit of the team to the plant would be taken after getting permission from the lenders.

As a parallel step discussions also took place with MSEB and IDBI over reaching a consensus on tariff, we have asked the two to resolve the issue amicably, Mr Shahi said.

Power ministry officials said that the team would first meet the preservation and maintenance contractor, Punj Llyod, before starting the inspection. Based on the contractors report, they will start the inspection process and submit a final inspection report to the ministry after two weeks.

Officials said that GE had extended support in making the plant operational if a company like NTPC gets the contract to operate.

Ministry officials clarified that the meeting focussed mainly on the technical aspects on how to restart the 740-mw Dabhol power project. Nobody knows how much damage has happened to the plant which is lying idle since May last year. Naphtha is lying there as also pipes and turbines. Unless these are opened, it is difficult to assess the condition and give any time-frame to restart generating electricity from the plant, they added.

Sources said that the issues raised by GE Indias president and CEO, Scott Bayman in a recent joint letter to the Union ministers of finance and power (see FE of September 24) were also discussed in the meeting. Mr Bayman has pointed out that re-starting of Dabhol Phase-I plant is impossible in two to three months. According to GEs estimates, restart of phase-I project will take 9 to 15 months from the time the technical team begins its assessment of damage.