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Plant shut for 7 days, crisis looms

india Updated: Aug 11, 2010 23:44 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times
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India’s largest hydroelectric power plant remained defunct for the seventh day in a row, except for a brief interval, deepening the power crisis in north India.

The shutdown has reportedly hit power supplies to Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

Silt from the catchment areas (the region drained by a river) of the Satluj river continued to affect power generation at the 1,500 MW Nathpa-Jhakri project.

In the past week, the plant worked for only four hours on Tuesday night.

SJVN Ltd runs the project. The corporation is a joint venture of the Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government.

Punjab’s power supply could be severely hit, with the Punjab Electricity Board workers going on strike from Wednesday.

Besides receiving 114 MW from the Nathpa-Jhakri project, Punjab buys a large amount of electricity from Himachal Pradesh’s share of 546 MW.

“The closure of the project has caused a loss of Rs 5 crore a day for the Himachal government, which sells its share to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi at Rs 5.10 per unit (kilowatt hour),” an official in the power department said.

“The project was started on Tuesday at 7 pm. But because of heavy silt, generation had to be stopped after only a few hours,” said Vijay Verma, deputy general manager, SJVNL.

Verma said the silt level in the Satluj river was 8,000 parts per million (or ppm), 3,000 ppm higher than the permissible limit. Given the high level, normal power generation could take another two to three days to begin.

The interruption in power generation has caused a daily loss of Rs 9 crore to SJVNL. The project daily generates 38 million units daily, supplied to nine states in north India.