<p>Anna Hazare's fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi is seeing its effects far and wide. The country's largest power producer, NTPC, on Saturday felt a shocker at Farakka in West Bengal.
As the United Progressive Alliance government and its troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee were battling to come out of the Lok Pal Bill deadlock, the power producer was compelled to call for a last-minute cancellation of an event. The event was to mark the inauguration of the full-load commercial production of the Rs 2,500-crore, sixth unit of the Farakka thermal power plant due to the unavailability of Mukherjee and other ministers.
"This event was organised for the finance minister, as this is under his constituency. Power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, minister of state K C Venugopal and company chairman Arup Roy Chowdhury, who were supposed to attend the function had reached Kolkata. But unfortunately, we had to cancel it. We expect that the Anna impasse would be over by on Saturday but we would finally decide in 15 days," said a senior NTPC official. The new unit, which is currently on coal firing, would increase the capacity of the Farakka plant to 2,100 Mw from the current 1,600 Mw.
The Farakka plant, which was facing a decline in power generation due to the non-availability of water during the summer that resulted from the periodical water-sharing deal between India and Bangladesh, would not face the same hardship from 2013. This is because it would come up with a river-bed lift pump house project, said regional executive director U P Pani.
There were concerns that the prime minister's proposed visit to Bangladesh next month would lead to a change in the current water-sharing deal between the two countries. According to the deal signed in 1996, both the countries would share power in an alternative period of 10 days each during the off season. However, top officials said the Rs 35-crore project would turn out to be a breather for the Farakka unit- which supplies 147 Mw to West Bengal, 50 Mw to Bihar and 32.5 Mw to Jharkhand every year - as it can store an additional amount of water.
The project was losing about 336 Mw of power for a couple of years, owing to the non-availability of water. It produces 38 million units of power per day. “Since the project would take care of the availability of water, even if the water-sharing deal changes, we are prepared for it,” said S P Singh, director, human resources.