Meghalaya's Hydro Power Potential – Why haven't we reached our optimum level yet?
By Pynshngain Lyndem
Endowed with a hydropower potential of over 3,000 Mega Watt (MW) which is about three per cent of the total hydro potential of the country, Meghalaya, at present, has a total of eight hydropower stations (PSs) in operation (total installed capacity: 354.70 MW) which were owned and operated by the Meghalaya Power Generation Corporation Limited (Company).
Looking back over through the years, studying the previous power projects viz., Myntdu Leshka Hydro Electric Project (MLHEP) and their commissioning, installation and implementation, we can see that because of the delay of a detailed analysis and assessment of the geological features of the site (soil quality, water quality, seismic impact, etc) during the planning stage, led to the delay in the implementation of the project besides increase in the project cost on account of the increase in the number of materials and cost escalation.
Concerning the New Umtru Hydro Electric Project (NUHEP), the inadequate Survey and Investigation (S&I) work and other deficiencies at the planning stage of the project had caused post-work award changes in designs and structures, leading to delays in the Project's completion and escalation in the cost.
The problem lies in the early stages of the projects, as briefly mentioned above, which can easily be avoided if they take proper steps in tapping the possibilities of power generation capacity of the State.
On a happy note, in 2018, the New Umtru Hydro Electric Project (NUHEP) was formally commissioned, and with continuous and combined efforts, the land-related issues had been resolved to make it possible to raise the Full Reservoir Level (FRL) from 128 metres to the optimum level of 130.10 metres, thus, allowing a plant load factor of over 60 per cent and resulting in an increase in the energy generated which will bring in additional revenue to the tune of Rs 8.5 crore annually.
The Ganol SHP, supposedly the first power project in Garo Hills with a capacity of 22.50 MW (3X7.50 MW), was envisaged to make the district self-reliant in power.
It was to be completed by January 2018, but because of the delay regarding the confusion of forest clearance requirement from the MoEF, including the above points; they revised the project at an estimated cost of Rs 507.71 crore for the completion of the 22.5 MW hydro project.
The approval of the project was accorded in 2008 and has been scheduled for completion by September 2022.
Hopefully, we will witness the completion of the project which would improve power generation and make Meghalaya self-reliant in electricity generation.