Sujay Mehdudia

Many projects have shut down or are generating below capacity

Performance of new thermal capacity has been lacklustre

NEW DELHI: The country is facing a “severe power crisis,” particularly the southern and western regions. The poor monsoon in the south and parts of the west and the east has compounded the problem.

In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam, Haryana and Punjab, power cuts are becoming increasingly common, as the States face a huge deficit.

The “unfortunate failure” of some power projects has aggravated the problem. The 300 MW Sabarigiri hydro power project in Kerala failed in May this year and it will take two years to be revived. The 440-MW Kalpakkam Atomic Power plant is generating only 190 MW due to shortage of uranium. An explosion in the 210 MW Raichur thermal power station three weeks ago has rendered the project powerless.

Generation at the Neyveli Lignite Corporation project is short by about 650 million units due to shortage of lignite and this has badly hit south India.

The 1500-MW Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation project was shut down recently due to excessive silt, aggravating the power crisis in the northern States of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Punjab and Haryana.

Short of target

According to the quarterly report of the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for April-June 2008, energy generation in June was 56411 million units against a target of 64037 million units. The energy generation growth was 2.34 per cent compared to the same month last year, against a projected 12.19 per cent. Generation growth rate was 1.89 per cent, against a projected 7.07 per cent during April-June.

One of the mains reasons for low generation is the lacklustre performance of new thermal capacity commissioned during 2006-07 and 2007-08.

The target generation from these stations during the period was 7763 million units. But only 2763 million units were generated.

Interestingly, three thermal power stations, with an installed capacity of 835 MW, which were synchronised in 2006-07, have not yet achieved Commercial Operation Date (COD).

Similarly, there have been significant delays in achieving the COD of projects with a total installed capacity of 3060 MW. These were to have been “officially commissioned” during 2007-08.

Bellary unit I and Kahalgaon unit 6 commissioned in 2007-08 have not generated any energy till date.

“The failure of the monsoon, especially in southern India, has been a setback for generation of power.

The hydro power projects in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have been the worst hit, resulting in a downward slide in internal generation,” said Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh.

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