New Delhi, Oct. 15: Help is at hand for power-starved Jharkhand from Uttarakhand in the form of a power project swap.
The hill state has invited Jharkhand to set up a hydro-electric plant in lieu of a thermal generation plant it promises to set up in the coal-rich state.
Confirming this, Jharkhand energy secretary Vimal Keerti Singh said the state government received a letter from Uttarakhand recently, offering the swap of projects.
“Uttarakhand is very keen to set up a thermal power plant in our state with a capacity of about 1,300MW and, in turn, wants us to set up a hydro power plant anywhere there with the same capacity. We have got a letter from them and it will be considered at the senior-most level,” he said.
Uttarakhand, which is primarily dependent on power generated from hydro projects, suffers serious deficits during non-rainy months when its rivers run dry.
The state is, therefore, looking to generate electricity through non-renewable sources and, according to Singh, Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna may visit Jharkhand to finalise the modalities of an agreement soon.
Punjab, which has a coal mine in Jharkhand, has also decided to set up a 1,350MV power plant in the state as it would reduce transportation costs of coal.
“We will have a plant with minimum capacity of 1,320MW near the coal mine in Jharkhand which will help in reducing our transportation cost for coal,” said a Chandigarh-based official.
Although senior Jharkhand officials said they were yet to receive any official communication from Punjab about the project, they saw no problem with the plan to set up a project in the state. “They (Punjab) own a coal mine in Jharkhand and under the Electricity Act, 2003, they are free to set up their own plant,” said an official.
Traditionally, Jharkhand has been a power deficit state saddled with an archaic and, therefore, inefficient distribution and transmission system. But curiously, state electricity board chief S.N. Verma claimed before Jharkhand High Court earlier this month that the state had been generating surplus power.
The blackouts were, however, due to transmission snags as a result of the old equipment.
“In last 45 days, we have been surrendering about 100MW electricity as we have surplus power,” said Singh.
“Many districts, however, are only getting about a few hours of power as our transmission lines are very old and cannot take the load. We need to strengthen our power distribution system,” the Jharkhand energy secretary said.