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Pradeep Pattanayak

If the entire Odisha is presently reeling under frequent power cuts amid soaring temperature these days, it is solely because of the failure in hydropower generation.

The State’s total hydroelectricity production capacity is 2,099 MW. In contrast, only 556MW from seven hydropower plants in the State is presently being generated which is only one-fourth of the total capacity.  

The production has plummeted despite the fact that the reservoirs don’t have shortage of water when compared to the water levels they had this time last year. 

For example, the water level in Hirakud reservoir in Burla was 608.73 feet on April 23 last year. On the same date this year, the reservoir’s water level stood at 612.83 feet. 

The water level in the Rengali reservoir is also more than that of last year while this year’s water level in Upper Kolab reservoir is almost the same as that of last year. 

Despite having sufficient water, they are generating hydropower far below their capacity. Several other reasons have been ascribed for this. 

For example, at Balimela reservoir, only three units out of eight ones are generating power. Similarly, two turbines at Machhakund Hydroelectric Project are lying defunct, resulting in a sharp decline in the production. At present, only 72 MW electricity is being generated here. 

“Despite being close to Balimela Hydro Electric Project, we are at the end of our tether. Students and patients at hospitals are suffering a lot,” said a Balimela resident. A Lamtaput resident echoed the same. 

According to energy experts, the present problem is arising because nothing has been done to dredge reservoirs and increase their water holding capacity.

“Since dredging of the reservoirs has not been carried out for a long period now, the water holding capacity of these reservoirs have been decreasing affecting the power generation,” said energy expert Bibhucharan Swain.  

On the other hand, Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das said, “In terms of water levels in reservoirs, we are not in an alarming situation as the water levels in our reservoirs haven’t reduced that much. But if the present heatwave continues for some more days, nothing can be said what would be the situation.”   

Meanwhile, power generation at NTPC Darlipali power station has been affected. Denying the shortage of coal to be the reason, the Energy department said efforts were on to ameliorate the consumers’ problems. 

Notably, the Darlipali power station generates 800 MW of electricity, out of which Odisha gets 400 MW.

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