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MeECL grapples to combat power woes

Shillong, July 22: Nature’s mercy has not yet been showered and the beleaguered Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL) is still uncertain when its consumers in the state will be free from the ongoing power cuts.

Meghalaya is solely dependent for power on the two major hydroelectric projects — Umiam and Myntdu-Leshka — whose capacity to generate electricity also depends on the monsoon. The maximum capacity of Umiam and Myntdu-Leshka is 186MW and 126MW respectively.

In the last two months, the run-of-the-river Myntdu-Leshka hydel power project was able to generate electricity to its maximum capacity following heavy downpour. The Myntdu-Leshka project is located on the southern slopes of the state in the Jaintia hills, which experienced continuous rainfall during the monsoon.

However, the Umiam hydroelectric project has not been able to generate power as expected, given the fact that the Umiam lake is still dry in view of the dwindling rainfall.

The water level in the Umiam lake will improve only if there is continuous downpour in Shillong and on its outskirts.

Meghalaya additional chief secretary (power) B.K. Dev Varma today said load shedding would continue as long as the water level in Umiam lake has not shown improvement.

“We have been expecting continuous rainfall to fill the Umiam lake so that the generation of electricity from Umiam hydro project can improve,” Varma said, adding that at present, the Myntdu-Leshka project is generating electricity to its maximum capacity.

Meghalaya is also purchasing power from various companies, including the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (Neepco), to meet the requirement for energy.

Neepco had for many months stopped power supply to Meghalaya because of MeECL’s failure to clear huge pending dues.

Neepco, however, lifted the regulation and resumed power supply to the state from May 8 after the Meghalaya government paid Rs 90 crore (Rs 30 crore cash along with post dated cheques of Rs 20 crore each for three months).

After deregulation, the MeECL could draw an additional power of 30MW during off-peak hours and up to 78MW during peak hours in addition to approximately 12MW of power supplied to Meghalaya from Kopili hydro-electric plant.

The additional chief secretary said the matter related to making more payment to Neepco would be again reviewed next month.

“A payment of Rs 90 crore was already made to Neepco in May and the negotiation in this regard is expected in August,” Varma said.

The MeECL has a total outstanding liability of Rs 1,745 crore with Rs 871 crore as overdues. The liabilities include dues for power purchase and transmission charges, which stand at Rs 482.9 crore. Of this, Rs 379.16 crore is due to Neepco.