Lying non-functional for over two years, the Rongtong hydel plant was suddenly seeing repair work in the wake of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s proposed visit on June 19.
The three engineers, who became victims of the gushing water due to bursting of a safety valve, were reportedly working overtime on Sunday night to make one of the total four turbines at the hydel plant functional.
Sources said it was quite evident that while working overtime, safety measures were not adopted by the engineers.
The tardy pace of repair work can be well imagined from the fact that the CM on his last visit at the plant on June 18, 2014, has directed the authorities to expedite the work. Yet, one year later, the plant is still non-functional, and to show some progress repair work had been resumed on a war footing.
Power principal secretary SKBS Negi said maintenance work was on at the plant, and the reason behind the valve burst could be ascertained only by the technical panel set up by the government.
Built to provide electricity to the tribal people of Lahaul-Spiti, the Rongtong hydel plant was commissioned in 1986, but was shut down for want of repair in 2013.
Four turbines of the plant were not working and a private company had been assigned the repair work. Sources said two turbines had been sent to Kolkata for repair, adding that the private company had earlier set November 15, 2013, as the deadline to install the turbines.
Power minister Sujan Singh Pathania had also assured in the monsoon session in 2013 that the project would be functional by March 2014, but in March the company asked for six months more citing various reasons for delay in work, including road blockage due to natural calamities. However, the power generation is still hanging fire.
As a result, power crisis continues in the Spiti Valley, especially in winter. “We were hopeful that the project would be functional soon and the power crisis would be mitigated. But in wake of Sunday’s incident, it will take much more time to resume power generation,” said Tanzin Chonzom, chairman, Lahaul and Spiti Zila Parishad.