Reservoir levels dip in Maharashtra, may hit major power plants

Koyna hydro power plant already closed due to water crunch

By Aparna Pallavi
Published: Thursday 03 July 2014

The chimney stacks of CSTPS emitting thick smoke

Maharashtra could be in for a power crisis if rains don't arrive soon. With just 19 per cent water left in the state’s dams, the government has taken a decision to retain this dead stock for drinking purposes, and this threatens operation of all seven major thermal power plants in the state, which produce a whopping 7,480 MW power, according to the state's power generation corporation, MAHAGENCO sources.

These include the 2,340 MW Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Plant (CSTPS) and the power plants at Bhusawal (920 MW), Khaparkehda, Nagpur (1,340 MW), Parli, Beed (1,130 MW), Koradi, Nagpur (620 MW), Paras, Akola (500 MW) and Nashik (630 MW). The 1,960 MW Koyna Hydro Power plant is already closed due to water crunch.

This is not the first time that Maharashtra has had to face a power crisis due to drought. CSTPS Chandrapur has had to face closure three times in the last five years after the Irai dam ran out of water. Speaking to Down To Earth, Mahesh Aphale, chief public relations officer of MAHAGENCO, said that due to the good monsoon last year, the water crisis has held off till now, but after July 30, the crisis will be serious if the level in the dams does not rise. He also said that limited facilities for recycling waste water are available with MAHAGENCO, but these are far from sufficient. He said that efforts are on to enhance waste-water recycling capacity of plants to avert future crises of this kind. He cited the example of the Koradi power plant’s 1,980 MW extension project, which will be completed soon and will run entirely on 130 MLD of recycled sewage from the Bhandewadi sewage treatment plant in Nagpur. “These efforts will bring down power crises due to drought in the future, he said.

Tehsildars empowered to start tanker facilities

Meanwhile, as a measure to deal with the drinking water crisis, a cabinet meeting yesterday has decided to give tehsildars in drought-affected tehsils the power to sanction water supply by tankers to villages facing water crisis. The meeting also took a decision to extend all drought management measures till July 31.  As many as 194 out of 355 tehsils in the state have received less than 25 per cent rain till June end. At present 1,468 tankers have been pressed into service to supply drinking water to 4,376 villages and hamlets in the state.

Check dams sanctioned too late

At the very height of drought, Maharashtra government has sanctioned 33 check dams for the Vidarbha region under the Vidarbha Intensive Irrigation Development Programme. Out of these, a whopping 25 have gone to Nagpur district alone, while chronically drought-hit Amravati and Chandrapur districts have received just six and 2 check dams. However, water conservation groups have criticized these measures as woefully inadequate and also too late, since work on these check-dams can’t start till after monsoon.


Report: Crisis management plan: drought, 2014

Report: Monsoon variability and agricultural drought management in India

Report: Contingency and compensatory agriculture plans for droughts and floods in India 2012

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