The first hydel power project in Ladakh continues to provide 24-hour supply to a small population for nine months of the year. Shams Irfan reports.
Around 25 kilometres from Leh on way to Manali is the small town of Stakna. Famous for its monasteries, the town is relatively green as compared to other parts of Leh. Stakna houses the first hydel power project in Ladakh. Commissioned in 1986 Stakna has two Hungry made turbines of 2 MW each. However due to high content of silt in water canal and forebay the actual output is only 1.5 MW.
Stakna is fed by Indus River and lights up around 3000 households. Though there is no issue with water discharge the silt confines the generation to 1.5 MW only. In January, 2011 the project was transferred to Jammu Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) from Power Development Department (PDD). In most of the Leh during summers water discharge is diverted for irrigating fields but in Stakna because of high silt content water is not used for agriculture.
Except for the three months in winter Stakna runs for 24 hours (only one turbine is run alternately though both are fit for generation). From March to November, Stakna provides electricity to connected villages but during winters diesel generator at Choglamsar feeds the area. During winters only 4 to 6 hours of electricity supply is possible though DG sets. It is the only project in the region that is connected with a network system that helps Stakna to provide electricity to Leh district on need basis. Stakna has worked as a backup for Leh over many years. It is the fall back option when something goes wrong with the main supply line. Stakna on its own can provide power for lighting purpose only to almost entire Leh town.
But like most of the mini hydel projects in Ladakh, Stakna too has its share of problems. Though one turbine is sufficient to provide 24-hour uninterrupted supply to the connected areas, because of siltation issues Stakna remains under maintenance for most of the time. Because of turbine runners (design) issues and obsolete governing systems it is not easy to keep Stakna functioning. It is not possible to run both the turbines at the same time as nobody wants to take chance with old governors. Like all other projects in Leh, Stakna is not connected with a centralised grid. PDC is planning to add one more unit of 2 MW capacity to Stakna. The planners had kept a provision for the addition within the power house.
SERC has put its cost at Rs 22 crores and its tariff at Rs 2.42 per unit. The project generated 4.65 lakh units in 2010-11 and 41.66 lakh units in 2011-12.