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Mystery shrouds 425MW Nandipur plant

July 15, 2014

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif takes a look around the Nandipur Power project’s combined cycle plant after its inauguration ceremony.—APP file photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif takes a look around the Nandipur Power project’s combined cycle plant after its inauguration ceremony.—APP file photo

LAHORE: The operation of 425MW Nandipur plant, which was inaugurated by the prime minister on May 30, is shrouded in mystery. Its Managing Director Mehmood Ahmad has claimed that the plant contributed 95MW to the national grid during peak hours on Sunday, but everyone else in the system denied his claim.

Talking to Dawn on Monday, Mr Ahmad insisted that the plant was run on diesel the previous day and it contributed 95MW to the system. “From now onwards, the plant will generate 95MW daily during peak hours if diesel is made available,” he said.

But the plant’s employees and officials of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) and Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) denied that plant had contributed power to the system or it was in a position to function unless the government risked the “collapse of entire plant.”

Pepco data shows no increase in power generation in a year

Mr Ahmad said: “Although the plant is available round the clock, is not being run for 24 hours because it is too expensive to generate electricity with diesel and it is not yet ready on furnace oil. It is a misconception that the plant was shut down three days after its inauguration because it was unable to generate power on anything, but furnace oil.”

An official at the NTDC said: “It is technically unfeasible to operate the plant in the current circumstances. Otherwise, there was no need to close it down three days after its inauguration by none other than the prime minister. It needs furnace oil treatment plant (FOTP) and everyone in the system knows it.

“The treatment plant was not ready when the prime minister was invited to inaugurate it. The letter of credit for parts of the treatment plant is being opened now and it will take almost three months for them to arrive and being installed. Till then it will be highly risky to run the plant on something it has not been designed for.”

An employee at the plant said that a request had come from the management on Sunday for temporary running of the plant for a few hours, but the engineering, procurement and construction contractor refused to oblige, saying he would not be responsible for any damage if the plant was operated on diesel.

“People at the plant are well aware of the pressure the government is facing because of the power crisis and each megawatt now counts, but risk to the plant is too high to be taken,” he said.

The Pepco official said the plant had been inaugurated prematurely for political reason. “But the problem is that technology hardly understands politics and that is precisely where things are stuck now. Pressure is increasing on the government but technology is not responding. If all parts arrive in time, the plant will be ready by December. But if there is any problem, things can extend up to March next year,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2014