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Ready to tide over diffcult times

HK Sharma of CMD SJVNL a hydropower company, talks to M Rajendran on what the future holds for the company.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2006 12:54 IST

The SatlujJal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVNL), a hydropower company which had to shut down its power plants due to floods, is now ready to face new challenges. The company's CMD HK Sharma, with years of expertise in hydropower plants and a stint in the Konkan Railways project, talks to M Rajendran on what the future holds for SJVNL. Excerpts:

How is the company coping with the after-effects of the floods?

Not many people are aware that the river Satluj carries the maximum amount of silt among the Indian rivers. Our project on the Satluj has been affected by three floods which submerged the entire Satluj basin in 1997, 2000 and 2005. It not only led to damages but the entire topography also changed. So did the catchment areas. The river banks eroded badly. So whatever plans were made regarding silt contents (5,000 parts per million) when the project was envisaged had to be changed.

Is the company now prepared to meet a similar situation in the future?

We have made changes in our strategy. A few important solutions like hard coating for turbine parts, especially guide lane, cheek plates, lever and the runner which go underwater, are being carried out. These are the four components that get badly affected. It has helped increase the life of the parts by 90 per cent. I agree that turbine parts get affected in all hydropower projects. But since the size of our project is big, even if something small goes wrong, it gets highlighted, since the grid is affected. We have also set aside Rs 29 crore to enhance catchment areas with help of the forest department.

Has your project helped the people in the region?

We have completed the Nathpa Jhakri project. In that particular project, we have carried out many social activities and as a result the whole area has benefited. Further, the power supply to the state and the region has been good. We are supplying 1,500 MW to the northern grid and the state gets 34 per cent. Our supply has been significant in reducing the shortage of power supply in the northern region.

What are the company's new projects?

We already have three projects in Himachal Pradesh-Rampur (412 MW), Luhri (700 MW) and Khab (1020 MW). In addition, we have three more projects in Uttaranchal-Devsri Dam project (300 MW), Jakhol Shankari (35 MW) and Natwar (35 MW). Agreements have been signed for all the projects. By June, we will start the project in Rampur, which is funded by the World Bank.

Is the company financially strong to take up new projects, particularly in the wake of likely losses due to floods?

We are receiving regular proposal from financial institutions but we do not have any shortage of funds. In 2004-05, the company registered a profit of Rs 290 crore and paid a dividend of Rs 143 crore. Unfortunately, we are likely to make a loss of Rs 600 crore due to nature's fury that led to a loss of more than 2,700 MW of power. But we are confident that with new measures we will be able to become a 6000 MW company in the 12th plan. The company is also exploring opportunities in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh as new business areas.