Villagers puncture DVC pipeline

KOLKATA, JUNE 24. Theft of power during the process of its distribution is but common and the malaise continues to ail the Indian power sector. But a power plant owned by the Damodar Valley Corporation is facing a slightly different problem — it has to suffer pilferage of water as villagers are watering their crop by puncturing the plant's pipeline!

Among the best performing thermal power plants in the eastern region, the Mejia Thermal Power Station (MTPS) accounts for nearly 50 per cent of DVC's profitability. The plant which runs three 210 MW units (and is an expansion mode now) is located in the semi-arid district of Bankura in West Bengal.

The Chief Engineer-I (O&M) and project head, Basudeb Chowdhury, told The Hindu that MTPS needed 41 cusecs of water which was brought through a 17-km-long pipeline from the Durgapur barrage. "However, on an average this pipeline has to be repaired twice every month to mend punctures made by the local villagers for irrigation purposes," he said. The villages through which this pipeline passes are Kanulia, Dubendary and Maliara, and the crops grown here include paddy and mustard.

Unable to stop the villagers from `tapping' DVC's water resources, the DVC management has now made out an annual maintenance contract to mend the punctures at least twice every month so that the plant continues to clock the 75.86 per cent plant load factor that it had clocked in 2003-04 when it showed a net profit of Rs. 258.2 crore.

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