The Leh Line

Located on the Leh – Manali road on the left bank of Indus River Igo Mercellong is the backbone of power to Leh as it electrifies the entire area. Shams Irfan reports.

Since its commissioning in June 2005 Igo Mercellong has generated 700 lac units.
Since its commissioning in June 2005 Igo Mercellong has generated 700 lac units.

Igo Mercellong has two turbo turbines of 1.50 MW each supplied by Jyoti Ltd., Vadodra. However on an average only 2.8 MW is generated at Igo Mercellong. The net head at Igo Mercellong is 58 metres from the power house that carries 900 cusecs out of which 200 cusecs are diverted for agriculture purpose. Only 700 cusecs is required to run both the turbines. The water from Indus River is diverted through a 7.5 kilometre long man made canal which runs along the main road. The canal connects the head work to main power house. However, the hydro mechanical bell drive governors installed at Igo Marcellong are obsolete.

Since its commissioning in June 2005 Igo Mercellong has generated 700 lac units. However the civil work started as early as 1994. At the time of commissioning the total cost of Igo Mercellong was around Rs 35 crore.

“Since it is not connected with a grid thus the maximum output of Igo Mercellong depends entirely on the availability of load in Leh district,” Chamba Gonbo, JE in-charge, Igo Mercellong.

Though there is no major siltation issue here but it too remains completely shut down for three months in winters when discharge is minimal. In August 2010, the water conductor of the project was damaged by floods. Power house building and the machinery equipments however were saved. Within one month 90 per cent of the restoration work was completed while the remaining 10 per cent work was finished in December 2011.

“This project is specifically for Leh town so villages like Igo, Mercellong and Kharu are not covered under this,” said Gonbo. But during an emergency Igo Mercellong can easily provide load to its adjoining villages too. In entire Ladakh region discharge is the major issue during winters as water in the feeding channels is partially frozen. In Igo Margecllong, temperature drops around 25 degrees below freezing point making it impossible to so maintaining required flow to run both turbines.

For nine months at a stretch (March to November), Igo Mercellong functions non-stop to not only electrify the entire Leh district but also runs many small scale cottage industries. One of the famous beverage companies of Ladakh namely Leh Barries also runs on electricity generated by Igo Mercellong.

However during winters electricity is provided only for 5 hours that too through a diesel generator installed at Choglamsar.


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