KOCHI: In a big boost to KSEB, which depends on the national power grid to meet 65% of its power requirement, the Centre has has accorded preliminary environmental clearance for the 800MW Idukki Hydro Electric Extension project.
The estimated Rs 2,669.67-crore project envisages to utilise water from Idukki reservoir, which has a gross storage capacity of 1,996.3 MCM. After completion, it will be operated for four hours daily to meet the peak-hour requirement.
The existing Idukki Hydro Electric project has a capacity of 780 MW with six turbines of 130MW each. The extension project will have an installed capacity of 800MW with four turbines of 200MW capacity each. The KSEB aims to complete the project by 2026, which is the golden jubilee year of the existing project.
“The first phase clearance from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for the project is a big relief for the KSEB. The Idukki powerhouse was constructed in 1976 and the six turbines will complete 50 years in 2026. The machines will need rehabilitation in 2026, which will make the state to depend heavily on thermal power,” KSEB chairman B Ashok told TNIE.
‘Idukki’s capacity to go up to 1,580 MW’
“If the 800MW extension project can be completed by 2026, it will help the KSEB undertake the rehabilitation work. With the completion of the project, the power generation capacity of Idukki will increase to 1,580MW, making it the third largest hydel power project in the country,” KSEB chairman B Ashok told TNIE.
As part of the project, an underground powerhouse will be constructed around 500 metres away from the Moolamattom powerhouse. There will be an intake structure from the Kulamavu reservoir power tunnel and pressure shaft. The tail race tunnel will discharge the water through an open canal into the Thodupuzha river. The KSEB should submit reports on the existing and future power demands and the tentative cost and benefits of the project.
As the proposed scheme does not envisage any change in the existing operating levels of the reservoir, the KSEB is confident that it will get the second phase approval soon. As the Idukki Wildlife sanctuary is located 4.5km away from the project area, the possibility of objections from the forest department is scarce.
The KSEB has to obtain clearance from the National Board for Wildlife and obtain forest clearance as 111 hectares of forest land will be diverted. A sub-committee of the EAC will visit the project site before appraisal to decide on specific safeguard measures in terms of habitat fragmentation and conservation of endemic species in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.
Powerhouse near Moolamattom
No of turbines: 4
Capacity of each turbine
Rs 2,669.67 cr
Project to be completed 2026-27