BHUBANESWAR: In a glaring example of darkness beneath the lamp, many villages in Kalahandi district continued to live in the dark ages for decades despite having being home to the Indravati hydropower project. The project produced 600 MW power, but the vicinity languished without electricity until this month when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the 220/322 KV grid sub-station at Baner and three 33 KV feeders at Naber, Ladugaon and Badkutru ensuring supply to the blocks of Jaipatna, Koksara and Kalampur.
Budhbaru Majhi, a resident of Phatamaska hamlet located just three km away from the block headquarters of Thuamul Rampur, got power supply to his house for the first time two weeks back. The hamlet has 18 households. Although there are occasional power cuts and voltage fluctuations, Budhbaru and other villagers are not complaining.
“My children can study properly now and my wife can cook under the light of two bulbs. Earlier, we were scared to step out after dusk, but no more now”, he said. The grid sub-station has lit up 121 villages under the three blocks.
“Almost all the interior villages had electric poles but wires and transformers were missing. While some villages had electricity, it was an irregular two-phase connection that snapped in the slightest rain or wind and was never restored till we knocked the doors of Wesco office several times”, said Gourishankar Naik, a villager of Maligaon.
The power generated from the Indravati project is supplied to Bhubaneswar, Bhanjanagar, Narendrapur and Theruvali. Earlier, Indravati power was supplied to Kalahandi from Therubali through a 132 KV grid at Kesinga in Rayagada. With villages under Jaipatna, Koksara and Kalampur blocks located at a distance and amid hilly terrain, the power supply was erratic.
With the commissioning of the new grid sub-station at Baner, consumers in the district will get direct power from Indravati. “The power supply will help us run irrigation projects, cottage industries and even mobile towers in remote locations would function. Earlier, mobile towers would not function in the absence of stable power supply”, Naik added.
After Jaipatna, Koksara and Kalampur, the State government is now looking at providing stable power supply to people of Thuamul Rampur block who were displaced by the Indravati Hydropower project over two decades back. State Energy Minister Captain Dibya Shankar Mishra has asked Chairman of Odisha Power Transmission Corporation Limited (OPTCL) to connect 33/11 KV substation of Thuamul Rampur with the 220/132/33 KV OPTCL grid station at Kashipur in nearby Rayagada district.
While preliminary survey of the electrification project has been completed, the second phase survey will begin soon. “With bare minimum expenses, the sub-station can be connected to Kashipur grid station which will drastically improve the power scenario in Thuamul Rampur block where poor tribals sacrificed the most for the power project”, he said. The grid station is just two km away from Kalahandi border and 23 km from Thuamul Rampur sub-station.