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Nathpa Jhakri hydel project scales down generation
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 19
Concerned over the extensive damage being caused to the turbines at the Nathpa Jhakri project due to excessive silt, the Union Ministry of Power has asked the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam not to operate the project beyond the silt level of 4,000 ppm (parts per million).

The decision has been taken in view of the bursting of the labyrinth pipe, which led to the flooding of the underground powerhouse last September, on the advice of an expert committee. Accordingly, the generation target for 2006-07 has been scaled down from 6950 million units to 6400 million units. The nigam wanted the target reduced to 5700 million units but the ministry did not agree. The loss of revenue on this account will come to Rs 180 crore.

The largest hydroelectric project of the country has been designed for a silt level of 5,000 ppm but the high velocity silt particles had been eroding parts of turbines like guide vanes, labyrinth seat ,cheek plates and runners. Besides, the level of silt also crossed permissible limits frequently causing repeated shutdowns during peak generation season last year.

The ministry has also asked the nigam to coat the vulnerable parts of all six generating units with erosion-resistant tungsten carbide-based protective material so that they lasted for the season. The nigam has been asked to complete the task of coating before May 15 so that the project could achieve full generation from May 15 to September 15, the peak period when the discharge is maximum in the river.

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