Harnessing Power of Rivers

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Basharat Ahmad Dhar

Basharat Ahmad Dhar,Basharat Ahmad Dhar
Managing Director, Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Limited (JKSPDCL)

“The problem with hydro electricity is that it has a long gestation period and it is captive intensive, but in the long run, hydropower is most environment friendly and cheap,” says Basharat Ahmad Dhar, Managing Director, Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Limited (JKSPDCL)

What is the mandate of the JKSPDCL? What is your vision for next ten years?
JKSPDCL was established in 1995, by the Jammu & Kashmir government to achieve the objective of expeditious development of hydro power. The Corporation was incorporated to takeover, execute, complete, operate and maintain all power stations and power projects of the State. The assets of all the power projects in the State, both existing and under implementation were transferred to the Corporation. JPSPDCL is working to plan, promote and organise an integrated and efficient development of electric power in all its aspects. Our work involves the investigation, research, and preparation of preliminary feasibility and detailed project reports. After that we undertake construction, generation, operation and maintenance of power stations and sale of power thereof. We are also involved in construction of transmission lines and ancillary works for timely and coordinated supply of power. In next 10 years, the state will see significant changes in its power scenario. We may be a surplus state too.

Many parts of the country, including J&K, are suffering from acute power shortage. What kind of projects is JKSPDCL undertaking to make J&K self sufficient in power?
The Corporation presently has 20 hydroelectric projects with installed capacity of 758.70 MW located in various districts of Jammu & Kashmir including 450MW BHEP. The Corporation has Gas Turbines based on HSD with installed capacity of 175 MW at Pampore near Srinagar. In accordance with the State Hydel Policy, 2003 JKSPDC has allotted 10 small HEPs with a total capacity of 110.50 MWs under IPP phase-I. The State Government is presently reviewing existing State Hydel policy, 2003 for project implementation from 2-100MW to make it more investor friendly and thus attract investment and expertise from private players in the sector on a large scale. J&K State took lead of a mega hydro power scheme on tariff based competitive bidding process which was one of the achievement for us. J&K is the first State in India to award 690 MW Ratle HEP (mega hydro power project) on BOOT basis through a tariff based competitive bidding process. The corporation is also pursuing the development of geothermal project in Pugah valley of Leh, Ladakh.

The bulk of the power that you are generating is based on hydroenergy. But generation of hydro electricity entails construction of large dams, which can have environmental consequences. What steps can you take to minimise the environmental damage?
The problem with hydro electricity is that it has a long gestation period and it is captive intensive. But the overall costs of running a hydro-electricity project is much less, so in the long run the electricity generated turns out to be much cheaper. Environmental issues are also there. We have to divert some portion of the river and this can lead to depletion of water down the stream. But we take adequate safety measures to ensure that this does not happen. We release minimum flow to maintain the environmental balance. According to the guidelines of Ministry of Environment and Forests, we have to release 20 percent of the flow in the lean season and 30 percent of the flow in monsoon season. In the catchment areas we have to go for catchment development works. One important problem we face is related to the generation of muck. During construction of dams lot of muck gets excavated. This has to be scientifically disposed. We follow all the important guidelines to ensure that the muck does not become a problem.

JKSPDC has developed many landmark projects in J&K. In your opinion what is the most landmark projects that you have executed?
We are really proud of the Baglihar Dam, which is also known as Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project. This is a run-of-the-river power project on the Chenab River in the southern Doda district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. This project was conceived in 1992, approved in 1996 and construction began in 1999. The project is estimated to cost USD $1 billion. The first phase of the Baglihar Dam was completed in 2004. With the second phase completed on 10 October 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India dedicated the 900-MW Baglihar hydroelectric power project to the nation. The project started commercial generation of power from 2009. The power plant has generated 10724.06 million unit of energy by the end of August 2012.

“We take adequate safety measures to ensure that there is negligible environmental damage”

Panorama of Baglinhar DamTell us about the technology that you have deployed to ensure efficiency in the operations of second stage of the Baglihar project.
The Baglihar Hydro-Electric Project – Stage-I and Stage-II, each of 450MW installed capacity were envisaged as run-of-the river schemes, governed by the Indus Waters Treaty to exploit the hydro power potential of River Chenab. BHEP stage-II Power House cavern is 180m u/s of stage-I Power House Caverns. The Power Intake for Stage-II project has been constructed along with the intake of Stage-I, as it would not have been practical to construct the same at later stage without stopping the Stage-I Power house. The inlet to the intake consists of two rectangular openings 10m x 7.5m with a 5m thick intermediate pier. The energy at the Baglihar  project is being evacuated through 400 KV double circuit transmission line from the station switchyard to Kishanpur station on Northern Grid. The transmission line has a length of 67.93 kilometre and it has 215 towers.

What has been the environmental impact of the Baglihar Hydroelectric Project?
After the construction of the project, the surrounding area has got a fillip in the overall development in terms of trade, employment, housing, roads, and communication, education etc. This has led to lot of benefit for the local citizens.

T&D losses are fairly high in J&K, how do you plan to counter it?
As we are a power generating company, we won’t be able to do much about T&D losses. I believe that the Power Development Department is working on this issue. For historical reasons, there has been delay on this account. Our losses have been pretty high. I believe that the power department has gone in for unbundling of transmission now. Hopefully, this will be accounted for. Also, the policy decision of 100 per cent metering is being implemented rapidly everywhere.

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