The deadline to make Maharashtra power-cut-free is little more than a month away, but this year's acute water shortage could derail the plan.
The 1,130 megawatt Parli thermal power station - one of the biggest projects of the state power generation company - gets water needed to run the plant from Godavari river's downstream in Marathwada. However, as the district has received scanty rainfall this year, the plant will have to reduce generation significantly. Jayakwadi, one of the bigger dams on the river, has less than 20% water storage, while smaller barrages also do not have much water.
In view of the water shortage, the state has given first priority for water usage for drinking purpose followed by agriculture. Industry is last on the list.
The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) expects to draw water from the Khadka barrage to run Parli at its full capacity till year-end, but thereafter, they may have to shut down some of the units. If this happens, state power distribution company Mahavitaran might have to enforce power-cuts whenever it fails to meet supply needs through other sources.
Mahagenco's official spokesperson told HT on Tuesday that the company has asked the state government to make more water available after December. Farmers and politicians in Nasik and Ahmednagar have opposed the idea of releasing more water from upper dams to the lower dams in Maharashtra.
However, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has taken strict notice of the issue. "It's a serious concern. I'm trying to find a way out or else Parli would stop working," Chavan told HT on Monday evening.
The Parli station has two generation units of 250 MW each and three units of 210 MW each. The station consumes 90 million cubic meters of water annually. It is crucial to the state as it is based in the central region and plays an important role in stabilising the state electricity grid.
The latest crisis apart, Mahagenco's generation scenario is not too encouraging as it has old generation units and faces fuel shortage.