Nathpa Jhakri shutdown means power crisis in north India (Lead)

June 12th, 2008 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, June 12 (IANS) The 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri hydel power project in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, which also supplies electricity to other states in north India, has been temporarily shut down after the level of silt rose in the Sutlej river. The silt content in the river increased more than the permissible limit of 7,500 ppm (parts per million), forcing the authorities to suspend power generation, Vijay Verma, deputy general manager of the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, told IANS Thursday.

It was the first time the plant was closed this monsoon season. Heavy rain in the catchment area of the project has led to an increase in the silt level in the river. Normally, the silt level increases by June-end every year.

“We had no option but to close down the plant Wednesday as the heavy silt content causes extensive damage to the turbines. The closure is likely to continue for a few more days until the level of silt comes down,” he said.

The closure has led to a power crisis in northern India. The northern power grid came under strain as the states procuring power from the Nathpa Jhakri project were forced to overdraw from the grid.

The project has been generating about 38 million units every day. Punjab is getting 114 MW power daily from the project, Haryana 64 MW, Chandigarh 8 MW, Himachal Pradesh 547 MW, Delhi 142 MW, Jammu and Kashmir 105 MW, Rajasthan 112 MW, Uttar Pradesh 225 MW and Uttrakhand 38 MW.

With the closure of the project, Punjab authorities started imposing power cuts for two to three hours a day for domestic and commercial consumers to overcome power shortage, Punjab State Electricity Board chairman Y.S. Ratra said.

Punjab has become a power-deficit state as it has lost out on another 100 MW of power it was getting from Jammu and Kashmir under a banking scheme.

However, the Punjab board has increased its share from Uttarakhand and Sikkim to cover up the loss due to closure of the Nathpa project.

The power shortage in Punjab and Haryana is likely to affect farmers the most as the paddy sowing season is on.

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