Staff Reporter

Orissa Hydro Power Corporation Limited holds seminar on security management

OHPC manages seven hydropower stations

Participants raise alarm over security challenges

BHUBANESWAR: Some thieves stole copper cables in Upper Indravati Hydro Electricity Project in Orissa two years ago and as a result total power generation process came to a grinding halt. Subsequently, a few parts of the State plunged into darkness. It required 16-hours of relentless efforts by engineers to restore the normal generation.

Imagine what would happen if a larger subversive attack takes place. Situation could really turn disastrous, opined top security experts here.

To understand the security perceptions and possible preventive measures for safety of hydropower stations in Orissa, top police bosses, security experts, engineers and mangers met here. The occasion was a seminar on ‘Security Management for Hydro Power Projects’ organised by Orissa Hydro Power Corporation Limited (OHPC).

OHPC manages total seven hydropower stations whose total value is worth more than Rs. 18,000 crores. These stations generate about 2000 mw of power with more than Rs. 300 crores of revenue per annum. Besides, several lakh hectare land of irrigation potential had been created.

Unarmed home guards

Ironically, most of the stations are either manned by unarmed home guards or private security personnel. At some places, there has been no semblance of any security arrangement. Interestingly, at a few stations lathi-wielding departmental watchmen have been entrusted with the task of preventive attempts of sabotaging.

Additional Director General of Police Prakash Mishra said at least 13 platoons of police and an equal number of home guards would be required to bring the security arrangement to a manageable level.

Raising alarm over the security challenges posed by left wing extremists and probable Islamic terrorists, Mr. Mishra said: “either State government or OHPC itself has to think of stepping up recruitments. We require at least one year for preparing a force. So whatever steps have to be taken should be taken immediately.”

Growing divide on the issue of water for agriculture versus industry needs could also aggravate the situation. Displaced people could form a potentially dangerous group, he said.

Intelligence inputs

Earlier, addressing the session, State Energy Secretary Suresh Mohapatra said intelligence inputs suggested that extremist outfits wanted to ruin the economy and power stations were their primary targets. He emphasised on stepping up vigilance on important transmission lines.

Unfortunately, most of the hydropower stations fall in naxalite-infested area. Moreover, villages surrounding Balimela Dam were strongholds of ultras. While emphasis was laid on strengthening surveillance on stations, security experts proposed to reduce public access to these installations.

Summing up the issues, senior IPS officer B.C. Nayak, who had spent considerable time in Central Intelligence Bureau, said: “reports have been received that ISI is planning to target power installations. The issue has been discussed at higher level. The State government needs to constitute a committee to assess the situation. The recommendations should be implemented without delay.”