Trial run of the Rs.20-crore Meenvallom power project will start next week

The trial run of the Rs.20-crore Meenvallom mini-hydel project will start next week and commercial production from March-end.

Palakkad district panchayat president T.N. Khandamuthan said the work on the project, the first such project of a district panchayat, was over and the mechanical spinning work began on Thursday. (Mechanical spinning is the spinning of the turbine using water stored in the reservoir through penstock to produce electricity.)

He said the project work, which began in September 2010, was delayed due to various reasons and the schedule of August 2011 could not be adhered to.

The project was conceived by the district panchayat in 1995. In 1999, the Meenvallom Small Hydro Project company was formed and received administrative sanction for the project.

The project had also obtained environment clearance. But the then district panchayat, ruled by the Left Democratic Front, could not implement the project, Mr. Khandamuthan said.

The project was revived in 2006. The original estimate of the project was Rs.15 crore to generate 85 million units of power annually with 3 MW capacity. During the summer months, only one turbine would function to generate 1.5 MW. Mr. Khandamuthan said cost escalation had pushed up the project cost to Rs.20 crore.

Nabard loan

Nabard had sanctioned a loan of Rs.7.80 crore and the rest came as equity from 12 grama panchayats, four block panchayats, and the district panchayat, he said. The project could not take-off in 1999 as it did not get clearance to use 1.15 hectares of forestland. The forestland had now been taken on lease for 25 years and a three-km approach road had been laid to take machinery to the site, E. Padmanabhan, chief engineer of the project, said.

A power purchase agreement had been signed with the Kerala State Electricity Board at Rs.2.50 a unit for the first five years and Rs.2.12 a unit for 10 years, he said.

The project was expected to produce Rs.2 crore worth power annually, Mr. Khandamuthan said.

He said plans had been drawn up to develop tourism in the area by introducing facilities for boating, trekking, and for watching wildlife. Facilities to watch the scenic Meenvallom waterfalls would also be introduced.

The project would not affect the waterfalls and there was no permanent storage of water in the mini-dam, Mr. Khandamuthan said.