With all-round concern about the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam forcing the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to use water in the Idukki hydel reservoir for maximum power generation, the State's power scene appears set for a major crisis.

The decision to lower the water level in the Idukki dam by going in for generation of more power so that the Idukki dam could act as a buffer in the event of a breach in the Mullaperiyar dam would see water level in Idukki falling to precarious levels during summer. This would, in turn, force the State to purchase power at higher prices and that would be possible only if additional resources were found to finance such purchases. What this could all lead to is a resource crunch for the KSEB and a further widening of its revenue gap from the present Rs.1,300-odd crore to Rs.1,400 crore-Rs.1,500 crore.

Asked about the likely scenario at a news conference here on Wednesday, Electricity Minister Aryadan Mohammed said the KSEB was generating 11 to 12 million units of power every day at Idukki against 3 or 4 million units normally generated during this time of the year. As things stood, Kerala generated only 40 per cent of its total power requirement of about 3,200 MW. Even now, the KSEB was purchasing power at costs ranging from Rs.3-Rs.4 a unit to Rs.12 a unit from different sources. Idukki was capable of generating 740 MW annually. This year, the general storage in the reservoir was less than what it was last year. The normal practice was to store water in the Idukki reservoir so that a fair part of the demand could be met during the summer spell. That may not be possible this time round, he added.

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