The Big Brother

Takeover of Salal launched the NHPC. Three decades after, its four operational projects have a cumulative installed capacity of 1680 MW. Of the five projects (1719 MW) shifted to it for implementation, three (369 MW) are at an advanced stage of execution. It has 49% equity in a JV with PDC and NTPC in the state and that makes NHPC the principal player in J&K’s energy front.Big-Brother2

National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has enjoyed a special relationship with the government of J&K. It made an entry into the state as an agent and caretaker of the 690 MW Salal power project in Reasi that the Union Power Ministry was implementing. As the project was midway, the asset was transferred to it that launched NHPCs foray into J&K’s energy sector. Right now, it has four power houses operational in the state.  The last batch of seven proposed projects was shifted to NHPC on July 20, 2000 for implementation. Of them one is in operation (120 MW Sewa-II) as three others – 280 MW Uri-II, 45 MW Nimmo Bazgo and 44 MW Chutak – are at advanced stage of implementation. The 1000 MW Pakal Dul was taken back and is one of the three projects that a NHPC:PDC:PTC joint venture Chenab Valley Power Projects (CVPP) is implementing. Work on 330 MW Kishanganga is going on as the basic survey of 1020 MW Bursar is awaited. While the Salal was set up during halcyon days, Uri and Dul Hasti were implemented when militancy was at its peak. Dul Hasti was delayed partly because of security concerns. Though Uri faced similar issues, the consortium managed to implement the project successfully within set deadlines.

Salal Powerhouse

Big-BrotherSituated near Reasi’s Dhyangarh village, Salal is the largest power house in J&K that generates the cheapest available energy in India. It was conceived in 1920. Post partition, state government investigated the project and in 1970 Central Hydroelectric Project Control Board started implementing it. In 1978, its construction was handed over to the NHPC and later it was transferred to the newly floated corporation. In 1987, the first stage went into generation and was formally launched by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988. Second stage was commissioned in 1996. The dam over the Dyangarh ridge 113 by 450 meters over Chenab required 9.76 lakh cubic meters of rock excavation, 14.50 lakh cubic meters of concrete placement, 4.05 lakh tones of cement and 16000 tonnes of steel. The gigantic 26-block (12 spillway blocks, 6 power dam blocks and 8 non-overflow blocks) structure has 12 radial gated controlled spillways for discharging 794475 cusecs of flood flow and provided with six penstock intakes. The dam has six under-sluice gates with hydraulic hoists.  The two stage powerhouse has three units of 115 MW each. For availing additional head of power generation, two 11-meter diameter horse-shoe shaped tailrace tunnels with 2.46 km and 2.52 km length (of which around 700 meter is rock covered) were set up.

 Uri-I PowerhouseBig-Brother3

The 480 MW project having four units of 120 MW each is perhaps the most modern of all the projects that NHPC owns in the state. The then Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda specially flew to formally inaugurate the first unit in December 1996 as the balance three units went into operation in 1997 summer. It is the biggest powerhouse on Jhelum located near Boniyar in Uri not far away from the LoC.

Set up by a consortium (Uri Civil Contract AB) comprising various firms – Skanska and Nordic Construction Company, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB), Kvasrer – Boving and Sweco, the work started soon after the deal was signed on November 22, 1989. Though it was to be completed within 72 months, the government extended the deadline by 18 months because of delay in land acquisition, strike by workforce, location and climatic disadvantages, rough terrain and abduction of two engineers by militants in 1991 (who returned safe after 97 days).

A run-of-the-river scheme, the project has a barrage (93.8m wide), cut and cover (with 4 barrels of 206 m each), 300m long de-silting basin, 570m long open channel, 10.65 kms long horse-shoe shaped headrace tunnel, pressure shaft, an underground power house and 2.02 kms tailrace tunnel with outfall at the Bundi village. The entire project is under ground and involved excavation of 384000 cubic meters and concreting 335000 cu mts to bore over 22 kms of tunnels.

The project was a new experience even for NHPC because most of the capital was off-shore financing. While 45 % of the project costs come from Swedish Financial Institutions (Swedish International Development Authority, AB Swenska Export Credit, Sweden, and Nordic Investment Bank (NIB), Sweden), and 35 % from British agencies (UK Grant, and Export Credit from SCMB, UK), only 20% was the high cost loan managed locally. Interestingly 35 % of the foreign assistance was aid.

Dul Hasti Powerhouse

Big-Brother1Initiated in 1983 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, this 390 MW project with three units of 130 MW each, on Chenab at Kishtwar took almost a quarter century to complete. It finally went into generation on April 7, 2007. The project was marred  by in controversies from day one. The actual work on the project started in November 1989 but stopped in 1992 after a tunnel collapsed and buried the tunnel boring machine. In August 1992, militants kidnapped French engineer Mosio Antonio that triggered the flight of the French consortium. They did not resume work even when the engineer escaped after two months in captivity.

Not a single brick was removed or added between 1992 and 1997. It took a lot of efforts at the Prime Minister Office level to get the project revived. Though the contractors agreed, they later publicly stated they are abandoning the project. It took another series of efforts to get the contractors issue a certificate for dissolution of the deal. Only then the civil contract was awarded to Jai Prakash Associates, already working on state sector Baglihar on Chenab. JPs replaced the French civil contractor only as mechanical and electrical contractors remained the same but the NHPC did a lot on its own especially in the civil works area.  Unlike upstream Salal, Dulhasti is equipped with gated underground spillways that help it to flush the silt load, a method of silt suction that evolved indigenously. The project envisages diversion of Chenab waters from Dul village to the underground power station at Hasti hamlet through a 10.6 Km headrace tunnel. Its 185 meter concrete gravity dam – for 8000 cumecs of discharge – is 65 meters high and has an un-gated spillway and a gated one with four radial gates.

Sewa-II PowerhouseBig-Brother34

Sewa is a rivulet in Basholi and is a major tributary of the Ravi. Over the years, the planners have identified three projects on this stream. While the major one was given to the NHPC for implementation, the PDC set up one project itself as efforts are underway to set up the Sewa-I, the smallest of all the units.

NHPC commissioned the project in July 2010. A run of the river project, the powerhouse is located in Mashka village. The project envisages a 53 meters high concrete gravity dam at Gatti hamlet and a 10.02 kms long head race channel that feeds three vertical Pelton turbines to generate 40 MW each. Its penstocks have a net head of 560 meters. Ahead of Sewa, the NHPC is executing the first stage of 540-MW Chamera project in Himachal Pradesh.

While Gammon India Ltd set up its dam, the power house and associated works were carried out by National Petal Engineering Co.


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