No value for money

Falling power output can’t be attributed only to inadequate coal supply, there’s a new culprit — faulty equipment

Photographs by Soumik Kar

Some 90 km west of Gurgaon, lies Khanpur. The drive into this village in Jhajjar district is picturesque — lush green fields scattered with yellow mustard flowers line both sides of the highway, and brightly painted buildings, temples and trees dot the landscape. Some distance into Khanpur, though, the surroundings change abruptly. Here, the ground has been cleared of all vegetation, truck and heavy equipment tyre marks mar the reddish-brown soil and beyond, in a compound surrounded by dusty trees, huge cement chimneys jut into the sky. 

It wasn’t too long ago that Khanpur was just another sleepy village typical of rural India. Now, it’s a power hub for Haryana. In the past four years, two large power projects have been set up to meet the energy demands of the state and adjoining regions. The chimneys are part of these projects — one is a 1,500 MW joint venture between the Delhi and Haryana governments and NTPC, set up especially for the Commonwealth Games. The other — just across the road, literally — is a 1,320 MW plant owned by China Light & Power (CLP).

The Hong Kong company’s plant, which started production in March this year, is one of the few FDI-funded private power projects in the country. That’s not its only claim to fame — CLP India is also among the first few developers to use the latest super-critical technology, which is also used by ultra mega power projects. 

Given the importance of the two plants, you’d expect the project site to be abuzz with activity. But nothing much seems to happening — for the past several weeks, both plants have been producing very little electricity. Why? “Shortage of coal”. That’s an important reason but the CLP plant has an additional problem. Its equipment — sourced from Chinese companies Harbin and Dongfang — hasn’t been working as well as it should and one of the two units has had “boiler tube leakage problems”.

Some 240 km north of Khanpur at Yamuna Nagar is another power plant that started production not too long


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