Lower Jhelum: Before It Roars

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After traversing most of Kashmir, the Jhelum leaves the Vale generating cheapest bulk energy at Gantamula, reports SAMEER YASIR

The Lower Jhelum Hydel Power Project (LJHP) has a distinction. It is the last power project that PDC owns on the Jhelum. Beyond this, it is a roaring Jhelum that NHPC taps at Uri-I and Uri-II, shortly before it gushes across the LoC.

Even since the project was commissioned in 1978, LJHP has stopped generations only once for a prolonged duration. That was in April 2001 when its forebay was damaged and within a year it was back to work. There have been some minor snags that disrupted generation, the last one was in May 2011 when two of the three units stopped working for a few days. Conceived in late sixties, the LJHP was taken up for implementation in 1970. With an installed capacity of 105 MW, its three units of 35 MW each are currently generating only 90 MW.

The first one was commissioned in February 1978 and was followed by second unit in January 1979 and the last unit in November 1979.  While the locals managed most of the civil works, mostly by the Tirath Ram Ahuja Construction Company and Continental Constructions Limited (now Continental Construction Projects Ltd), the elctro-magnetic part of the project was managed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).

Housed on Jhelum’s gorgeous banks, the power house is nested in lush green mountains. The journey towards the power house starts at the right side of river Jehlum at Gantamulla where from the 9-km water conductor takes off. The 7700 cusecs canal snakes around the foothills till it reaches the barrage. Its length is 371 feet and has the capacity of holding 80000 cusecs of flood discharge. Inside it is a spill way, a fish pan and under knives which function as garbage cutters. It has 10 bays of 13 meters each. A silt ejector is located around 2.5 km away. A few kilometers ahead is the balancing reservoir used for maintaining the requisite level of discharge. It is an earthenware water reservoir 1036 meters long with an average width of 183 meters. The canal then travels three more kilometres to reach the forebay where from the pen-stocks take off. The project has a head of 202.72 meters. It has three penstocks feeding three units.

Prior to the fall of water, part of the discharge – not more than 10 cusecs, is diverted for the irrigation purposes to Bimyar village and many other surrounding areas. It has revolutionized the mountain belt that lacked irrigation facilities. The project employs scores of locals who manage the canal and take care of the asset that is so crucial to the surging energy requirements of the state. Currently it has 312 individuals on its rolls.

In 2003-04 repair work was done on seven pillars, which had collapsed, in the forebay halting the generation. By now it might have generated around 15000 million units of energy.

Generating for many decades, all the three units are running at slightly de-rated capacity – around 25 MW a unit. PDC has initiated RMU of the project that would require an overall investment of Rs 101.30 crore. It will restore the three units to their actual capacity and add around 9 MW at peak discharge season. The contract was bagged by BHEL in 2009. They have already changed the underwater parts of all the three units, up-graded the insulation of generators from Class B to Class F.

SERC has put its cost at Rs 477.67 crore and its tariff at Rs 0.69 per unit. The project generated 3777.19 lakh units in 2010-11 and 4832.92 lakh units in 2011-12.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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