Himachal firm scouts for hydro projects in southern India

Friday, 28 November 2003, 08:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: The promoter of the 1,500 Megawatt Nathpa Jhakri hydroelectric plant in Himachal Pradesh is scouting for new projects, especially in power-starved southern states like Karnataka.

Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJYNL), the promoter of the project on the Indo-Tibetan border, is looking to expand its presence and leverage its expertise in building such power plants in India.

With the successful commissioning of the Nathpa project's first two units of 250 MW each, and the remaining four units of the same generating capacity set to go on stream by July 2004, the Shimla-based public sector undertaking has expressed readiness to take up hydroelectric projects in southern India, especially Karnataka, which is facing a power shortage.

SJYNL chairman and managing director Y.N. Apparao told IANS here that he was holding consultations with the Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) for taking up new projects in the state either as a joint venture partner or on a turnkey basis.

"We are making a detailed presentation on the successful execution of the Nathpa Jhakri project, which is the country's largest hydropower plant, to KPCL and the Karnataka government."

As Karnataka is endowed with rich hydel resources due to the presence of the Krishna, Cauvery and other river basins in the coastal areas, the potential to harness natural resources is immense.

"In view of our domain expertise and ability to raise funds, we are keen to offer consultancy services to Karnataka and other southern states that are looking for public-private partnership in such projects," Apparao said.

According to the central power ministry, southern India has about 40 percent hydropower potential, which translates into 4,335 MW at 60 percent plant load factor. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh account for half of this untapped potential.

The four southern states - Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka - have so far built hydropower plants to generate 5,798 MW and similar projects to generate 632 MW are at various stages of completion.

According to KPCL sources, though the total hydel generation capacity in the state is 3,259 MW at 75 percent load factor, the energy outflow this year has been a low 6.19 billion units per day against the average output of 9.49 billion units on account of monsoon failure and poor inflows in hydel reservoirs.

"With the cost of hydropower generation being cheaper than thermal and nuclear, the Planning Commission has sought to restore the hydro-thermal ratio to 40:60 from the existing 25:75 during the 10th Plan period with a view to harnessing the hydel resources in the country and reducing environmental pollution," Apparao stated.

The Central Electricity Authority has already commissioned SJYNL to prepare a feasibility report for the 2,000 MW Khab-1 and Khab-11 hydropower projects on the Sutlej river in Himachal Pradesh.

The Uttaranchal Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd is negotiating with SJYNL to execute a 16-km-long head race tunnel for the 304 MW Maneri-Bhali stage II hydroelectric project.

As a joint venture of the central and Himachal Pradesh governments with 75-25 percent equity stake respectively, the Nathpa Jhakri underground power station was completed in nine years.

At a plant load factor of 60 percent, the first two units (250 MW) of the mega plant are generating 12 million units of power daily, which is being supplied to the national grid for distribution in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Source: IANS
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