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Biomass power plants in Parsa lying defunct

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, PARSA

Mar 9, 2018-

Three biomass gasification power plants installed in Parsa with the support of the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) have been lying inoperational for a long time due to lack of vital parts and an efficient management team.

The biomass-fired plant in Jagarnathpur shut down after it could not compete with lower-priced Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). The other two plants, located in Mahadevpatti and Sonbarsa respectively, could not start production due to lack of vital equipment.

Gasification power plants generate electricity by burning various kinds of biomass such as paddy husk, wood and straw. The power plants in Parsa burn paddy husks.

Nepal’s first ever gasification power plant set up in Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality started producing energy six years ago. It shut down last year as load-shedding was reduced after the NEA began supplying adequate power.

PAF District Coordinator Ram Binaya Paswan said, “The plant in Jagarnathpur was switched off as locals could get cheaper electricity from the NEA.”

According to the PAF, the power plant in Jagarnathpur cost an estimated Rs5.14 million. Local women contributed Rs206,500 worth of labour during its construction. Likewise, local Shah Dev Yadav donated 2 katthas of land to build the plant.

The power stations in Mahadevpatti and Sonbarsa, modelled after the plant in Jagarnathpur, barely function as many key technical instruments are lacking.

Two years ago, employees of the contracting company, Ganesh Engineering Workshop of Bihar, India, refused to visit the sites citing strikes and protests in the region. Nayan Singh, a technician of the company from Motihari, India, has not been seen since.

Ganesh Engineering employees have been out of contact for the last three years. Even though 90 percent of the work on the plants has been completed, they are not fully operational as vital parts are yet to be installed.

The plant at Mahadevpatti cost an estimated Rs4.2 million. Local women contributed labour valued at Rs450,000. Several pieces of equipment were imported from India three years ago. The machinery at Mahadevpatti lies rusting as the plant has not been operated for three years. The PAF has issued Rs1.7 million to the company through a letter of credit.

Women and youths of Sonbarsa actively pushed for the construction of the gasification power plant in their village. The estimated cost of the station is Rs4.4 million, with local women contributing labour worth Rs418,217.

The contracting company received Rs2.14 million in the first instalment and Rs607,000 in the second instalment. Like the plant at Mahadevpatti, the plant at Sonbarsa is missing important equipment, and it cannot go into full-fledged operation.

Shri Kant Yadav, coordinator of the Rural Society Development Centre Programme said, “We went to Motihari to look for the technician Nayan Singh. His family said that he had left home a long ago.” The Indian Consulate General in Birgunj has been searching for the technician.

According to the PAF’s initial plans, the gasification power plants would be built at a cost of Rs115,000 per kilowatt. Additionally, the plants could be used for crushing sugarcane, milling paddy and wheat, and producing incense from the ash.

The plants would burn straw as the chief biomass as an alternative to paddy husks. The PAF invested substantial sums in building these three stations which are now barely functioning.

Published: 09-03-2018 09:12

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