M. Malleswara Rao
Alert engineers avoid a catastrophe by closing it down
Salvaging the seven turbines and other equipment will cost Rs. 100 crore
State will have to forgo power generation for the salvaging period of 45 days
HYDERABAD: The right bank powerhouse of Srisailam dam was submerged on Saturday when the water discharge from the dam reached a high of 25 lakh cusecs after its first crest-gate was opened for the first time in 20 years.
But for the precaution taken in time by the AP Genco in stopping generation and closing this powerhouse as well as the 900 MW tunnel powerhouse on the left bank (900 MW) on Friday night, the submergence would have caused a catastrophe, killing hundreds of engineers and others.
This was the second submergence of the 770 MW powerhouse in 11 years, the first being on October 14, 1998 when the Krishna, like now, unexpectedly received a huge inflow of about 10 lakh cusecs. At that time too, the powerhouse was shut down similarly as a precaution. The government spent over Rs. 70 crore to salvage the equipment and make the station operational.
G. Adiseshu, Director (Hydel), AP Genco, told this correspondent from Srisailam that they had decided to close the power houses minutes after the first indication was available that the inflows would cross 20 lakh.
The submersion of the powerhouse, which lies at the foot of the dam on the right side, took place in spite of the retention wall constructed along with the dam isolating it from the river course as a protection.
After 1998 mishap, the height of the wall, indeed, was increased far beyond the powerhouse building. Officials, however, suspect that the water this time might have also entered from gaps in the rear of the building. According to an estimate, the salvaging of the seven turbines (each 110 MW capacity) along with the generators, stators and other equipment which were flooded, will cost Rs .100 crore.
As the salvaging will take about 45 days, the State will have to forgo generation for this period. The loss this way will be in hundreds of crores as otherwise the Transco will have to purchase power at Rs. 3 per unit from outside sources.