Miscommunication between the Punjab Irrigation department and Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has pushed the 920-MW Guru Hargobind Thermal Power (GHTP) Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, into a crisis that could lead to the shutdown of all its four power units.
If PSPCL authorities are to be believed, the irrigation department did not inform them before stopping the flow of water into the canal for 20 days in a row and, now, the plant doesn't have sufficient water to run all the four units.
Due to closure of Sirhind canal, which feeds most of the Malwa region, the state may face power shortage as 920-MW Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant is left with 7 to 8 days' water only.
"Water in our lakes is enough to run all our units till April 27. We will be forced to shut all the four units if water is not released by the irrigation department," said MR Parhar, chief engineer, GHTP.
Sirhind canal has been closed for 20 days till April 30 due to some construction work on its main branch.
GHTP lakes have maximum storage capacity of about 16 lakh cusecs of water, which is sufficient to run the plant for about 17-18 days. Daily consumption of plant is 90,000 to 1 lakh cusec of water. All the four units (two of 210 MW and two of 250 MW each) of the plant produce 220 lakh units of electricity on daily basis.
Water in the plant is used for steam, cooling, ash conveying and many other activities. According to sources, half of the water has already been consumed and only 7 lakh cusecs of usable water is left in the lakes. This water can run the plant for 7 more days.
On the other side, if water is released in the canal on May 1, it will reach the Lehra plant lakes only on May 3 or 4 and PSPCL authorities may have to shut the plant for 5 to 6 days.
Authorities at the plant have been taking measures to minimise the consumption of water. Watering of trees, lawns have been stopped and consumption of water for general purposes like bathrooms etc. is being regulated.
"We were not informed regarding the closure of canal for such a long period by the irrigation department. Flow of water was never stopped for such a long duration. Irrigation department did not issue us any written communication for closing of the plant," Said Parhar, adding, "We want irrigation department to immediately release the water in canal otherwise we will be forced to shutdown all the units."
When contacted, executive engineer, irrigation, Bathinda range, Nirmal Singh Brar, said, "We had formally informed PSPCL. It is a very big activity and it is not possible that they were not informed."