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Rains nudge Sikidiri hydel to record

Ranchi, Jan. 1: For the first time in more than a decade, the state’s lone hydro-electric station at Sikidiri has been working for the fifth month in succession and generating nearly 100MW of power.

Located some 40km from Ranchi to harness the waters of Subernarekha, Sikidri has two hydel units with a total installed capacity of 130MW. The plant is equipped to generate power for 3 to 4 hours daily only during the monsoons — July to September — when the water level of the Getalsud reservoir touches 1,935 feet.

However, with the water level at the Sikidiri dam currently standing at 1920 feet for more than two weeks, despite daily use of around 20 million gallons to meet Ranchi’s drinking water requirements, both the two hydel units are being run for more than an hour to generate between 88MW and 100MW of power every day.

The entire power generated is for use in the state capital.

“Water can be used for power generation once the level of the reservoir reaches 1,920 feet. Our surveys have established that over the past two weeks, water levels at the Getalsud reservoir continues to stand at 1,920 feet. We have reworked hydro-electric engineering details for Sikidiri hydel to prevail upon the state drinking water and sanitation department to allow us to generate power from it,” S.N. Verma, chairman, Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB), told The Telegraph.

With Jharkhand experiencing heavy rains last year, surveys have established that there was enough discharge of ground water to maintain water levels at the Getalsud reservoir.

Otherwise how could water levels remain at 1920 feet over two weeks in spite of heavy withdrawal of water to supply Ranchi.

This is probably the first time in recent memory that Sikidiri hydel plant has been in operation for the past five months. A total of 100MW from Sikidiri means JSEB has been earning around Rs 30 crore per month by selling power to consumers.

“Over the past five months, our earnings have crossed Rs 150 crore from Sikidiri hydel alone. This is an achievement,” Verma said.

Out of our earnings of Rs 150 crore, we have spent around Rs 20 crore for repairs of sluice gates and other machinery at Sikidiri using the services of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd.

“We will continue to generate power from Sikidiri for at least another month. For the record, that would be history of sorts as the plant was designed to work for a maximum of 4 months a year. Water levels at the reservoir are being checked daily to ensure drinking water supplies to Ranchi is not affected,” Verma added.

Bashir Ahmad, project manager, Sikidiri hydel, confirmed that the water levels at Sikidri continue to remain at 1,920 feet.

The JSEB chairman also pointed out that generation from Patratu and Tenughat — the two thermal power plants of the state — was around 500MW a day, which was a record.

Once two more units at Patratu, currently under renovation and modernisation, begin operations, the generation figure was expected to rise further.