NTPC plans to offer 15-day paid leave to employees at remote sites after every two-and-a-half-month stint
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

In an attempt to keep its staff motivated at far-off project sites spread across the country, state-owned NTPC Ltd has taken a leaf out of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd’s playbook.

Impressed by the upstream explorer’s policy of granting 14 days paid leave to its employees after a 14-day stint at the high seas, India’s largest power generation utility introduced a pilot scheme at its 2,500 megawatt (MW) Rihand project at Sonebhadra in Uttar Pradesh. According to the contours of the scheme, NTPC personnel get a 15 days paid leave after serving for two-and-a-half months at the site.

As part of this arrangement, India’s largest power generation utility provides all creature comforts such as air conditioning, fridge and laundromat, among others, to its employees who are given a single-room accommodation. Once the stint is over, they are taken to the nearest airport, which is Varanasi, with an air ticket provided by the utility to fly to their location of choice within the country.

Enthused by the response received for its pilot scheme popularly referred to as the Rihand model, NTPC is now evaluating a plan to replicate it across its stations in the country. The development assumes significance given that NTPC has a present installed capacity of 47,178 megawatts (MW) through 42 projects spread across 20 states in India.

Explaining the rationale of the scheme, U.P. Pani, director, human resources at the utility and the man behind the scheme, said, “Often it so happens that while a NTPC employee gets posted at one of our remote locations across the country, they can’t take their family along. This also results in them being averse to such postings.”

“To overcome this persistent issue, we introduced a pilot at our Rihand project. All personnel, whether male or female, can avail this. All facilities including a mess are provided by us. We have adopted the ONGC model. We may replicate this across our stations for which we will have to create the necessary infrastructure,” Pani added.

NTPC’s current employee strength is 23,133 and given its future plans, it will have to plan its manpower carefully to help India achieve 948 gigawatt capacity by 2032. The utility accounts for 16% of India’s power generation capacity of 298,060MW and plans to achieve a total capacity of 128,000MW by 2032. In addition to its power projects, NTPC also has 10 coal blocks with 7.2 billion tonnes of reserves in remote locations.

Experts say that this is a standard industry practice.

Hema Ravichander, an independent consultant, said that most drilling companies and other firms at remote locations follow such a work model.

“Employees usually end up working without a break in a week and for long hours in a day. They are away from home and family, and so such a system allows them to go back home,” she said.

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