Kashmir’s Power Plight
While most of the projects conceived decades ago are yet to be executed, some existing projects which had turned defunct due to some minor snags haven’t been repaired, resulting in loss of crores of rupees to the state every month
|| WANI JAVID
For the past 20 years the state government has failed to award construction of 93- MW New Ganderbal hydropower project that was conceived in late 80s. In 2014, during the then Omar Abdullah led government a private firm had won the bid for construction of the project. But even after two years the government is yet to ward the construction. Apart from the cost escalation, which runs into crores of rupees now, the losses in terms of failure to harness the water have been innumerable over the decades. But the New Ganderbal is not the only project that has become victim of the official apathy in the state having vast hydropower resources. While some projects, like Ganderbal, conceived years ago are yet to see any progress, many other projects which had developed faults years ago, continue to lie defunct. This apathy towards the power generation reflects how the successive regimes have least focused on the sector which has the potential to boost the state economy and make Jammu and Kashmir fi nancially s elf-sufficient.
Taken the example of three of the oldest power projects, which are operational in Ganderbal district – 105-MW Upper Sindh-II, 22-MW Upper Sindh-I and 15 MW Ganderbal power projects. While the three projects have the cumulative capacity of 142-MW they are however generating just 47-MW, mainly for want of up gradation and minor works of the power houses. A source told Kashmir Leader that the machinery of the three power projects has turned obsolete and for want of the renovation the state exchequer is facing loss of crores of rupees every month. None from the authorities concerned is paying any heed towards up gradation of the machinery and project digitalization resulting in the losses,” said the source. The tale of 850-MW Rattle power project in Kishtwar district is no different. The work on the project was stopped by the contractor more than 28 months ago. Till date the government is yet to take the decision on restarting the construction following the controversy with the contractor, Hyderabad-based GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited over tariff rates.
The Rs 6000 crore project is being set up on Built Operate Own and Transfer pattern with time period of 35 years. Likewise the 9-MW Sewa hydropower project, set up on Ravi River in Jammu, was commissioned in 2002 and is located downstream the NHPC-owned 120-MW Sewa-II. The project with three units of 3-MWs each became defunct in 2013 after a breach in its canal due to floods in Ravi. Since then the project is lying defunct resulting in loss of crores of rupees to the state. Similarly the fate of projects like 1850-MW Sawlakote, 390 MW Kirthai-I, 930-MW Kirthai- II, 280-MW Ujh projects, conceived years ago is still undecided. A run-ofthe- river project Sawlakote remained surrounded in controversies since 1997 when the then National Conference government offered it to limited bidding. One of the oldest Hydel power plants in south-Asia, 9-MW Mohra power project, which is located in Uri town of north Kashmir, is lying defunct since 1992 after it was affected by floods. Left ignored and defunct, the flume of the project has decayed and the machinery has corroded under rust. Though the state government has time and again said that it would prepare a detailed project report for renovating the project which was constructed by European engineers in 1902-03 on the left bank of river Jhelum at Boniyar, there has been no progress on the proposal.