Punjab’s mega hydro-electric power project Ranjit Sagar Dam is in trouble in the absence of proper pumping of funds and experienced staff.
The project, capable of producing nearly 600 MW power, is battling to attain the state government’s attention to run smoothly facilitate its staff as the project has allegedly not received its due amount of over Rs 100 crore from the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), overdue since long.
Ranjit Sagar Dam Project (earlier known as Thein Dam Project) was constructed by the Punjab government at a cost of Rs 3,800 crore across the Ravi river, about 24 kms upstream of Madhopur Headworks.
The multipurpose project was completed in the year 2000 and has so far generated over 25,000 million units worths Rs 9,320 crore as per official figures.
As the dam was facing a financial crunch for maintenance, a committee with the name of Dam Safety Committee was formed that suggested that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), authorised to market the power produced by this dam, would provide 3% of the revenue received by it through electricity produced by RSD every year for the maintenance and civic services to the dam employees and their families. Sources in the project told HT that as the dam produced 12,888 million of units of Rs 5,689 crore, the 3% sum to be given by PSPCL touched a figure of Rs 170 crore out of which, the PSPCL released only Rs 47.63 crore last year, leaving a sum of Rs 122.37 crore pending.
“They (PSPCL) were asked to furnish at least a minimum sum of Rs 11.35 crore by the chief secretary last year but so far, they have delivered only Rs 5 crore which may not serve the project as it is looking after a population of 8,000 which includes staff and their families,” the source said.
The sources further claimed that as most senior officers, official and workers are nearing retirement, maintenance of the dam will suffer due to lack of experienced staff. He explained that most of the important structures of the dam are underground and in case of emergency, only the experienced team can react to the requirement of the situation.
When contacted, superintendent engineer RL Mittal said talks were going on with the PSPCL for release of funds. Over staff shortage he said he hoped that the state government fills the vacancies soon.