Electricity Minister A.K. Balan has said the State will soon plunge into darkness if the fate of the Apthirappilly hydel project befalls the other 28 hydel projects evolved by the State government.

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating the upgradation of the 66-kV Chavara substation of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) into a 110-kV substation on Wednesday.

Mr. Balan said the Athirappilly project had the all relevant clearance, including that from the Supreme Court and the Prime Minister's Office. Yet Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh stumped the project. The State government was committed to protecting the environment. If Mr. Ramesh continued his stance, none of the projects in the 12th Five Year Plan would be completed, he said.

The Minister said the State was poised to attain self-sufficiency in electricity within the next 10 years. Thirty schemes had been evolved for the purpose.

The present installed capacity is 2,800 MW while the demand is 3,000 MW. The aim was to hike the installed capacity by another 3,000 MW in 10 years, he said.

The immediate need was to ensure that the transmission loss was reduced, he said. Already the KSEB had brought down the loss from 32 per cent to 18.5 per cent and soon it would reach the international levels of 15 per cent. For the purpose, Rs.1,800 crore was being spent for commissioning 206 new substations and installing 20,000 transformers. Out of that 16,500 transformers had already been installed. The CFL programme of the KSEB would ensure the saving of another 250 MW.

Already the voltage problem for the entire State had been solved. With the inauguration of the new Chavara substation, the Chavara Assembly segment became totally electrified, he said.

Presenting the report on the occasion, KSEB Chief Engineer (distribution-south) K. Radhakrishnan said that the new Chavara substation would benefit over 48,000 consumers in the panchayats of Chavara, Thevalakara, Thekkumbhagam, Panmana and Neendakara.

It would also provide a third feeder line to the public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd.

The function was presided over by Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran.

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