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Power cuts mulled

Shillong, Jan. 30: Meghalaya is reeling under a power crisis and the state is mulling power cuts in order to save some energy during the lean season, an official said today.

The state owned public sector unit — Meghalaya Energy Corporation (MeECL) — has already worked out a schedule for imposing power shutdown in the entire state, given the fact that the availability of power is less during the dry (low hydro) season.

“A schedule to impose power cuts has been prepared and it will be implemented soon,” Meghalaya additional chief secretary (power) B.K. Dev Varma said.

At present, Meghalaya’s demand for power is over 600MW and according to Varma, the demand will shoot up to 800MW by the end of the Twelfth Plan.

“The power available with the state is only about 400MW, and that also only during the high hydro season (monsoon). During the lean period, only half of this is available,” Varma said. The newly commissioned Myntdu-Leshka project in the Jaintia hills also could not produce much power during the dry season. The hydel project has three units generating 42MW each.

“Myntdu-Leshka cannot generate power as expected especially during the lean season as it is a run-of-the-river project, unlike Umiam hydel project, which is a storage project,” Varma said.

Built prior to statehood during the 1960s when Meghalaya was under undivided Assam, Umiam project has a total capacity of 186MW. Both the hydroelectric projects — Myntdu-Leshka and Umiam — are dependent on rain.

Meghalaya, once a power surplus state, was forced to resort to power cuts during the dry season mainly because the central public sector units (PSUs) supplying power to the state has regulated its supply owing to outstanding dues.

Meghalaya has to pay staggering dues of around Rs 300 crore to PSUs like Neepco, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited and National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation Limited.

The state depends on power purchased from outside and spends between Rs 230 crore to Rs 240 crore annually.

“At the end of the Twelfth Plan, we hope that our central share will increase from 300MW to 600MW since a few more power stations in different parts of the country will be commissioned,” Varma said.

The gap between power supply and demand in Meghalaya has increased over the years, turning it into a power-deficit state. At one time, Meghalaya used to supply power to Assam.

The state will also get a share of 79MW from the two units of the Palatana project in Tripura, 39.5MW from each unit. “We are yet to receive power from Palatana,” Varma said.

The 726.6MW combined cycle gas turbine thermal power plant in Tripura’s Gomati district is expected to cater to the needs of the power-deficit states in the Northeast.

The first unit of 363MW of the thermal power project has become operational.