HYDROELECTRICITY: Morcha blocks hydel plants

HYDROELECTRICITY: Morcha blocks hydel plants – Yes, conveniently blame it all on “external factors” with no introspection – an honest look back on the history of NHPC, when was its last deadline ?!!

The construction site of the NHPC’s Stage III project at 27th Mile near Rambi


June 7: Consistent agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and global warming are the two stumbling blocks for micro hydroelectric projects in the hills, power officials have alleged.

The much-delayed Teesta Low Dam Projects (TLDP) of the NHPC are also likely to miss their deadlines yet again because of the Morcha-enforced strike at the project sites in Rambi and Kalijhora.

The micro hydel projects planned by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (Webreda), which in total will generate 15mw power or so, are yet to be executed.

“We had identified a number of sites and sought expression of interests from private parties. At least 10-12 projects had been finalised but the entrepreneurs could not start the work because of the political agitation and violence in the hills,” S. Bhattacharya, the director of Webreda, told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta today. “It seems that unless the political turmoil ends, there is little chance of commencing the projects.”

The director said six micro hydel projects, set up in association with the state power department at Neora and Nippon near Kalimpong of 3mw each are running in an unpredictable manner. “Given the present state of political affairs in the hills, there is no certainty of their operation and they may close down any day,” he said. “This has further discouraged the entrepreneurs.”

The range of output of the pending projects, to be developed by the private parties, is from 800kw to 3mw. Its sites are on the upstreams of the Chel, Neora and the Jaldhaka rivers and the hilly streams like the Pechangkhola and the Rishikhola.

Bhattacharya said the change in the flow of water in rivers was posing a problem. “There is asymmetry in flow of water in the rivers because of global warming.

Usually, we engage experts from IIT Roorkie to find out the trend of water flow for the past three years so that before a micro hydel project is set up, one can have an idea of water flow in the lean and peak seasons which directly affects the scale of power generation,” he said. “We had conducted such study earlier but in the past couple of years, the flow of water is not matching with those trends. We need to carry out another study to update the trend. But given the present situation, it is improbable to send teams to remote areas where they need to stay for three years to conduct the study.”

The Morcha denied the charges of obstructing the work. “There has been no resistance from our side in any of the micro hydel project sites,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media secretary of the party. “It is a false allegation by the state government.”

The 132mw TLDP Stage III project at Rambi, about 30km from Kalimpong, is slated to be commissioned in February 2011, while the 160mw TLDP Stage IV, 15km downstream at Kalijhora, is due for commissioning in August 2011.

“The nearly month-long strike this time round will push back the projects by a year. The twin projects have already been hit by delays because of the political turmoil in the hills,” said an NHPC official.

Last week, the Morcha decided to continue with its strike at the two NHPC project sites while calling off similar programmes in other central and state government offices.

The party said it had called the strike to protest the NHPC’s failure to honour its promise of establishing an engineering college and setting up an MRI scan facility in the hills.

The protracted delay has inflated the project cost. “We have recently submitted a revised estimate of Rs 1,300 crore for the TLDP Stage IV project. The cost of the other project will also go up similarly,” said a source. Both the projects were originally estimated to cost less than Rs 1,000 crore.


Teesta Low Dam – III Project

Layout Plan of Teesta LDP III - a strategy for apathy and cost inflation ?!!

Teesta Low Dam Project-III was entrusted to NHPC on 15th Nov. 2000. It is located on river Teesta in district Darjeeling of West Bengal.  The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri and nearest airport is Bagdogra.  The Project will generate 594.07 MU annually in 90% dependable year.


Location On river Teesta in Darjeeling distt. (W.B)
Approach Nearest Rail Head – New Jalpaiguri & Nearest Airport – Bagdogra
Capacity.  (4×33) MW or 132 MW
Annual Generation 594.07 MU (90% dependable year)
Project Cost Rs.768.92 Crores (Net) (Dec 2002 price level)
Year of Commissioning November 15, 2000
Completion Schedule
February 2011 (Anticipated)


  • 4 nos Kaplan turbine of 33 MW each
  • 32.5 m high barrage
  • 125x22x56 m surface power house


NHPC’s Rs 222-crore Teesta contract goes to Austrian company


Posted online: Oct 06, 2004 at 0000 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 5National Hydro Electric Power Ltd (NHPC) has awarded the electro-mechanical work for its 132mw Teesta (low dam III) to an Austrian company VA-Tech Hydro Pvt Ltd.

According to embassy officials, the contract is valued at Rs 222 crore and has to be executed in 39 months. The order has been placed on VA Tech Hydro India and VA Tech Escher Wyss Flovel, the two Indian subsidiaries of Austria-based VA Tech Hydro group, company sources said.

The project will include the design, manufacture, supply installation and commissioning of the complete electro-mechanical equipment comprising 4 units of 33mw Kaplan turbines, alternators, digital governors and excitation systems, state of the art control monitoring and protection equipment, step-up transformers, 220KV GIS and other auxiliaries, company officials said.

“The award of the contract has created a major milestone in the history of the two Indian subsidiaries – VA Tech Hydro India Pvt Ltd, Mandideep Bhopal and VA Tech Escher Wyss Flovel, Prithla, Palwal, Haryana,” company officials added. The products and services of these companies are sourced from more than 160 years of experience of VA Tech Hydro GmbH.

VA Tech Hydro GmbH, belonging to VA Tech AG, Austria’s largest engineering group is currently ranked number 2 globally in the hydro sector. And, on the other hand VA Tech Hydro India is an important sources for generator supplies for other group companies.

Apart from catering to domestic customers, Bhopal factory has executed export orders as well as in-house orders for VA Tech Hydro for third countries.

It maybe recalled that the government gave the CCEA clearance in 2003 with completion schedule of project as March 2007. The NHPC had proposed the establishment of eight hydro power stations in Sikkim and West Bengal and declared that the two proposed dams, stage III at Samco ropeway and stage IV at Coronation bridge are ‘low and run-of-the-river dams’.

Together, these projects are expected to generate 332 MW of power. This amounts to less than five per cent of the installed generation capacity of existing power plants in West Bengal.

The total installed capacity of all power plants in West Bengal is 6797.29 MW and the transmission and distribution loss of power was estimated to be 28% in 2000-2001. A substantial reduction in these losses is possible, which will negate the need for these additional projects and would cost much less.

The construction of the project would provide impetus to the economic and developmental activities in the are and would also improve the power supply position in West Bengal and other States of the Eastern Region.

Power will be generated at 11 KV and stepped up to 220 KV for transmission. The project would afford annual energy generation of 720 GWh on 90% dependable year basis. The dam project is expected to be completed in four years time after approval by the Cabinet. (2008 ?!!)


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