M A I N   N E W S

PM says no to free power
Dedicates 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project to nation
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Jhakri, May 28
Expressing concern over the growing power shortage in the country, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today said the time had come to declare in “no uncertain terms” that free power to farmers was a major impediment, hampering the efforts to enhance power generation.

“It is time that people understand that the days of free power are over. No doubt, farmers need incentives to boost production but free power is proving to be a big drag on the overall development of the country”, he said while addressing a public meeting after dedicating the 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project to the nation. He said besides impeding the efforts of the government to create additional generation capacity, it was also leading to a situation where people had to put up with irritating power cuts in various parts of the country.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the functioning of state electricity boards and stressed that they must carry out reforms to improve efficiency. With mounting losses, they could not hope to boost power production. The Centre and the states had to work in unison to deal with the situation and ensure that the shortfall of power was wiped out expeditiously.

He said in Himachal Pradesh, 10,000 MW of hydro-electric potential was waiting to be exploited. Speedy harnessing of hydro-power potential would go a long way in accelerating the overall pace of development.

His government was keen to improve the socio-economic lot of the people and the recently announced Bharat Nirman Yojna provided the blueprint for it. Basic amenities like drinking water, electricity and roads would be provided to all villages on a priority under the programme. The irrigation facility would be expanded and new schemes would be launched to strengthen the existing health and education infrastructure.

Referring to the achievements of Himachal Pradesh, he said the hill state was showing the way in the fields of education and health. However, a lot more was needed to be done and there was an urgent need for promoting environment-friendly industry to create employment opportunities for the youth. He assured that the Centre would extend all assistance required for the speedy development of the state, particularly in the implementation of new projects.

He also gave a broad outline for accelerating economic growth. Agriculture must be diversified and farmers should go in for new crops. There was immense potential for development of horticulture, floriculture and other allied sectors, which must be exploited.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, made a strong plea for expanding the rail network in the hill state. He lamented that all rail links were constructed during the British era and there had been no progress on this important front since Independence.

The state government had conducted surveys and identified some viable rail links, which would go a long way in improving communication. The Bhanupali-Bilaspur-Rampur link was one of these. A branch line from this link could connect the Mandi and Kangra areas.

He said the state had an identified hydro-electric potential of 21,000 MW, of which only 6,000 MW had been harnessed so far. The government had drawn up plans to increase the total hydro-electric generation to 10,000 MW over the next four years.

He urged the Prime Minister to extend the incentives under the industrial package up to 2012 on the pattern of the north-eastern states. The package had helped attract an investment of Rs 10,700 crore over the past two years. However, to enable the state to derive full benefit, it should be extended.

Mr P.M. Sayeed, Union Power Minister, said the government was making all efforts to add 1 lakh MW of generation capacity during the 10th and 11th Plan period. It had launched a 50,000 MW hydro initiative in which Himachal Pradesh would have a major role.

The project boasts of the world’s largest underground desilting complex, Asia’s largest underground powerhouse and one of the longest power tunnels in the world. The desilting arrangement comprises four chambers, each of which is 525 metres long, 16.31 metres wide and has a depth of 27.5 metres. Similarly, the underground powerhouse complex is housed in a cavern measuring 220m x 22m x 49m, big enough to house a 17- storeyed structure. The head 27.4-km tunnel carries water form the diversion dam at Nathpa to Jhakri, the powerhouse site.

The project has been executed with a World Bank loan of $ 437 million. Its original cost in 1969 was a meagre Rs 180 crore. It increased to Rs 1,600 crore in 1981 and Rs 4,338 crore in 1990. The final cost was likely to be of Rs 8,186 crore. In fact, the cost was revised thrice during the execution.

The first unit started generation in October 2003 and the project was fully commissioned in May 2004. Till date, it has generated 7,450 million units of power.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |