KOCHI: At a time when the state government is set to hike the power tariff by 15-70 paise per unit, 128 small hydroelectric projects with an aggregate capacity of 798 megawatts (MW) remain non-starters despite being proposed several decades ago. They do not include large ventures like the 163 MW Athirappilly project.
"The KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board) cites operating losses, which are accumulating every year, before the electricity regulatory commission to justify tariff hike every time. However, the only reason for KSEB's loss is its laxity in executing new hydroelectric projects," said Jacob Jose, former project manager of Pallivasal Extension Scheme
Jose had prepared a note on the long-pending hydroelectric projects in Kerala. "These small projects neither need a dam nor water storage and so, would not adversely affect the environment," he said.
Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty admitted to The New Indian Express that several small hydroelectric projects are stuck due to "minor issues". However, he said the government has identified several such projects and implement them in the next 12-18 months.
Four small hydroelectric projects - Poringalkuthu (24 MW), Thottiyar (40 MW), Bhoothathankettu (24 MW) and Pallivasal (60 MW) will be implemented in 12-15 months, while the foundation stone for the Mankulam (40 MW) project will be laid in the coming week, he said. "The minor land issues that delayed Chinnar project (24 MW) have been sorted out. Tendering processes for Olikkal (5 MW), Poovaramthodu (3MW), and Marippuzha (6 MW) are on," he said.
He said the 128 small projects were identified for implementation by the Union power ministry over several years in various studies. "However, not all of them are viable and feasible. So, it’s not proper to say all 128 projects are pending," he said.
Jacob said last year, 18,268 million units (MU) of the state’s total consumption of 25,125 MU were purchased from outside for a whopping Rs 8,680 crore. "This year, the bill is expected to cross Rs 9,000 crore," he said.
Krishnankutty said that the government is also moving quickly to establish the second powerhouse at Idukki. Consultancy firm WAPCOS Ltd, a PSU under the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, is in the final stages of preparing a detailed project report for the 800 MW project. "Once the second powerhouse is commissioned, the Idukki project will emerge as the country’s largest hydroelectric plant with a capacity to generate 1,580 MW of power," he said.
Other pending projects include Bavalippuzha–II (8 MW), Valamthodu (8 MW), Pambar (40 MW), Achankovil (30 MW), Chenkulam augmentation (24 MW), Upper Chenkulam (24 MW), Vakkalar (24 MW), Kakkadampoil-I (20 MW), Karikkayam (15 MW), Keezharkuthu (15 MW) and Nakkayam (12 MW).
Small hydel projects likely in 12-18 months
Poringalkuthu (24 MW)
Thottiyar (40 MW)
Bhoothathankettu (24 MW)
Pallivasal (60 MW)
Tendering process on for
Olikkal (5 MW)
Marippuzha (6 MW)