Six main power-generating turbines of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia in Narmada district have remained non-operational for the last two weeks, producing zero electricity due to very less rainfall in the catchment areas of the dam. All six riverbed power house of 200 MW capacity ground to a halt on June 7 and has not started operating yet because of low flow of water in the river.
This is the first time in several years that all six turbines of the 1,200-MW riverbed power house have remained out of operation for two weeks at a stretch, officials of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) said, adding that the status quo will be maintained until the level of water in the dam improves from the current 114.46 metres.
During the same time last year, nearly all the turbines were in operation due to early arrival of monsoon rains in the catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh, they said.
The decision to shut down the turbines was taken after consultation with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), officials said. Incidentally, the NCA had on June 12 approved the proposal to raise the dam’s height from the current 121.92 metres to 138.62 metres.
“We have kept all six turbines shut since June 7 and will start them only when the water level rises. Generally, during summer, we operate these turbines for a few hours every day, and as water level improves with the arrival of monsoon, all the turbines get operational by this time of the year,” an SSNNL official said.
As much as 57% of electricity generated by the dam is supplied to Madhya Pradesh, 27% to Maharashtra and 16% to Gujarat.
“We occasionally run the 250-MW Canal Head Power House and five 50-MW mini hydro power generators, for a few hours in a day, but do not operate the riverbed power house at all, in order to preserve the water level in the event the rain gets delayed even further,” the official said, adding that it will be hard to recover the water level in the dam in the event it goes further down due to the use of the turbines.
Water used in the six 200-MW turbines goes waste once used in electricity production and cannot be used for either re-generation of power or irrigation purpose. As against this, water used in the 250-MW CHPH and 50-MW turbines can be supplied back into irrigation canal. In 2013-14, the dam produced 5,216 million units of electricity.