‘Powerhouse’ Arunachal in grip of power crisis

ITANAGAR, April 2 – Arunachal Pradesh, often described as the future powerhouse of the country with an estimated 58,000 MW hydro power generation potential, has been facing an acute power crisis for the past two and a half months.

With the sources of rivers rapidly drying up directly impacting generation in the entire North East, Arunachal Pradesh is also suffering from a supply shortfall.

The situation has been compounded by a large number of fires being reported in the State this year, forcing consumers, particularly students, to reach for conventional energy sources like kerosene and candles.

The hilly State receives between 84 MW to 34 MW during peak and non-peak hours respectively against a peak hour demand of 130 MW.

The supply schedule goes haywire with a fluctuating supply from the NE Grid. It varies from 44 MW to 84 MW during peak hours and between 34 MW and 44 MW during non-peak hours, that too including the State’s share of 22 MW to 24 MW, according to State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC) executive engineer T Mize.

Though a few mini and micro hydro power projects are generating power to meet the local needs, statistics are not available to SLDC contrary to the grid distribution mandate, Mize said.

The demand for power has been on an upswing with a number of massive development projects being executed in the State. Small and medium industries are also being set up in large numbers.

Criss-crossed by numerous perennial rivers, the State houses the largest hydro project in the North East – 405 MW Ranganadi hydro electric project (105 MW x 3 units) of the North East Electrical Power Corporation at Papum Pare district.

“Two units are functioning mostly as per the schedule given by the NELDC according to power requirements of the State and availability of water,” head of Rangnadi project Samarjit Chakravarty said, adding “as of now, we are producing 230 MW.”

Mostly two units are run during winter as well as the water level goes down, he says.

With the global warming causing an environmental crisis across the world, particularly due to shrinking forest cover triggered by spread of human habitations and development projects which in turn disturbs the ecosystem, its impact on water flow of the rivers is obvious, according to environment experts.

The construction of one of the largest hydro projects in India – the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri hydro electric project at Gerukamukh – has met with anti-dam protests in neighbouring Assam led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, though 75 per cent work is complete.

India had an installed capacity of 211.766 giga watt as of January this year, the world’s fifth largest.