Northeast asks centre to reduce gas prices

Agartala, Aug 29 (Calcutta Tube) The northeastern states have urged the central government to reduce the prices of natural gas being used in various thermal power projects of the region, a Tripura minister said here Sunday.

The power ministers of the seven northeastern states met union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora in New Delhi last week and told them that unless the government reduces the gas price, the people of the northeast would be burdened with heavy electricity tariff.

‘Over 48 percent of the total electricity is generated from the gas-based thermal power projects in the northeastern region,’ Tripura Power and Transport Minister Manik Dey told reporters.

According to Dey, the petroleum and natural gas ministry recently hiked the price of natural gas from Rs.2,112 to Rs.5,152 per 1,000 standard cubic metre (SCM) inclusive of 10 percent royalty and 12.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT).

‘The 116 percent hike of natural gas automatically would raise the power tariff,’ Dey said.

The memorandum submitted by the northeast power ministers to the central ministers said: ‘The growth of power sector in the region is already constrained because of severe transmission and distribution bottlenecks and inadequate infrastructure.’

‘For realising the power potential of the region, it is necessary that the power sector is supported until the time the power infrastructure reaches the same level as other parts of the country,’ the memorandum said.

The hike in the gas price not only adversely affected the consumers but would also badly affect industrial development in the region, the northeast power ministers told the central ministers, demanding a roll back of the hike in prices of natural gas in the region to stabilise the prices of power.

The northeast power ministers have also requested the central ministers to take steps to supply power from the mega power projects of Orissa to help resolve the power crisis in the electricity-starved northeastern region.

The power ministers of eight northeastern states earlier this month in a two-day conference in Meghalaya capital Shillong discussed the power scenario of the region and finalised strategies to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other central ministers over the huge electricity deficit in the region.

According to experts, the northeast has the potential of producing 70,000 MW of power, offering to resolve the power crisis in India to a large extent.

‘The northeastern region is reeling under huge power shortages due to sluggish development of commissioning of new power projects. The region is producing power just two to three percent of its actual potential due to various bottlenecks,’ Dey said.

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