Month later, turbines yet to roll | india | Hindustan Times
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Month later, turbines yet to roll

In the debate over ?development verses ecology? that has come to symbolise the Tehri hydel project in Uttaranchal ? ?progress? tripped in the inaugural run, giving the green lobby something to argue about.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 02:03 IST

Snag grounds Phase One

In the debate over “development verses ecology” that has come to symbolise the Tehri hydel project in Uttaranchal — “progress” tripped in the inaugural run, giving the green lobby something to argue about.

Even a month after the commissioning of the first unit of the “controversial” and the “much- delayed” project, Tehri has failed to generate a single unit of power.

The first phase of the project — meant to generate 250 megawatts of power to feed the starved Northern Grid — was “dedicated to the nation” by Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on July 30. But a day later, the turbines sputtered to a halt. Round-the-clock efforts by Russian and German engineers have not been able to set the engines rolling. The result: zero commercial output, weeks after commissioning. The Tehri Hydro Development Corporation authority attributes the malfunction to an “unexpected delay” in the stabilization process of the turbines — which they hope to “correct” in a week.

“Stabilisation of the turbines and other machines have taken longer than usual and as the Russian manufacturers have not yet handed them to us, commercial production is yet to begin,” chairman-cum-managing director of the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation R.K. Sharma admitted. He, however, refuted suggestions that delay in commissioning the project by more than six years was at the root of the turbine malfunction. The turbine was purchased from Russia for $400 million in the mid-90s. “As of now, we are not generating any electricity and supplying it to the grid. If everything goes according to plan and the machines are handed to us, production will begin in a few days,” Sharma said.

Work on the second 250-MW unit is underway and is likely to be commissioned by the month-end. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi are expected to grace the function.

The complex comprises the 1000-MW Tehri dam, the HPT (stage 1), the 1000-MW storage pump, 400 MW Koteshwar dam and the power project.

Speculation is rife that the project was commissioned in haste following “pressure from several quarters without completing the process of testing the turbines and machines.

Besides boosting irrigation and drinking water supply in western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, the first unit of the project was expected to add 60 MW to the nation’s capital. Once completed, the three stages of the 2,400- MW project would power nine states in north India.