The state-owned Parli thermal power plant has stared shutting down its units because of the acute water scarcity in Central Maharashtra. Two units, one producing 250 megawatts (MW) and the other 210 MW, stopped working from Thursday onwards, thus creating a shortage of 460 MW in the state.
The shortfall is sizeable hindrance to the state government’s plan of making the state power-cut free by the end of the year. It could also lead to city consumers having to pay more for power.
And the situation may get worse within the next month.
All other units at the 1130-MW plant are expected to be shut down if they don’t get additional water from the upstream Godavari river. Parli currently gets its water from the downstream section of Godavari, which doesn’t have much water after the poor monsoon this year.
Jayakwadi, one of the bigger dams on Godavari, has less than 20% of its water storage capacity, while smaller barrages don’t have much water either. The state prioritises water for drinking purposes, followed by agriculture. Industry is given the last preference.
Ashish Sharma, managing director of the state-run power generation utility Mahagenco said, “We have asked for more water. Till then, we will conserve whatever water we have by shutting down some of our units.”
If Parli shuts down completely, the state power distribution company Mahavitaran will have to enforce power cuts or buy expensive power to meet the demand. A Mahavitaran official, requesting anonymity, said they would have to spend a large amount of money to buy power if the government insists on fulfilling its promise of power for all.
“And, in doing so, we will pass on the costs to consumers,” the official said. “We will manage if we can continue power cuts in areas where revenue recovery is less and electricity pilferage is more.”
Meanwhile, a political controversy continues to obstruct the release of extra water to the power station, with leaders from Ahmednagar and Nashik opposing the move.