September 7, 2021 6:19:04 am
The Riverbed Power House (RBPH) at the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam, which had been closed since July 3 due to a deficit in this year’s monsoon and depleting dam levels, operated for only one day — August 26 — ensuring that around 40,000 cusec water was released downstream around the Statue of Unity (SoU), allowing the Ekta Cruise to restart services for tourists as well as to pave way for a possible inauguration of the upcoming daily attraction of the Narmada Aarti, that is planned on the lines of the Dashashwamedh Ghats in Varanasi. The downstream of the dam had run dry since the powerhouse was shut on July 3 due to a deficit in the monsoon and depleting dam levels.
The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) operated five of the six RBPH turbines on August 26, generating 7.37 MUs of hydropower and releasing water downstream Narmada. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL) operated five of the six RBPH turbines on August 26, generating 7.37 MUs of hydropower — also releasing water downstream Narmada, which was dry until August 26 due to the deficit monsoon this year. The RBPH turbines, which ran for over 46 hours between them on August 26, had run for two days in July 2021, before being shut for the season, and generated a total of 17.37 MUs of hydropower. The RBPH generated 14.29 MUs of hydropower on July 1 with all six functional turbines running for a total of 98 hours between them and 3.07 MUs on July 2 with five functional turbines running for about 21 hours between them. In June 2021, the RBPH generated power of 468.93 MUs and along with the Canal Head Power House (CHPH), the total hydropower generated in June was 515.72 MUs.
Each cycle of the RBPH releases close to 40,000 cusec water downstream, officials said, which would earlier flow into the sea. However, after the construction of the Garudeshwar Weir around 12 km downstream from the dam, the water is retained around the SoU.
An official from the Gujarat State Electricity Company Limited (GSECL), which has an operation and maintenance agreement with the SSNNL for the functioning of both the RBPH and CHPH, told The Indian Express, “The schedule for operation of the powerhouse is decided by the SSNNL in consultation with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and as per its directions. The SSNNL had asked us to operate the RBPH on August 26. No reason for the one-day operation was given.”
Incidentally, the restarting of operations at the power house occurred just days before the three-day Gujarat BJP party executive committee at Kevadia on September 2, which was combined with “cultural events and sightseeing”. At the event, BJP state President CR Paatil also declared that the party will organise aartis at 7100 village temple to mark PM Modi’s birthday.
SSNNL dam superintendent engineer M L Patel remained unavailable for comment.
However, an SSNNL official told The Indian Express that operating the RBPH for a couple of days each month is necessary for its maintenance. “This is not the first time that the RBPH has been operated while the overall powerhouse has been shut. We were undertaking maintenance work for the powerhouse,” the official said.
The water retained between Sardar Sarovar and Garudeshwar Weir has also opened the possibility of the inauguration of the Narmada Ghat aarti, which has been planned on the lines of the Dashashwamedh Ghats in Varanasi. Statue of Unity Area Development and Tourism Governance Authority (SOUADTGA) officials have roped in the Shoolpaneshwar temple trust to train eight Hindu priests to replicate the movements of the Dashashwamedh Ghat aarti and are awaiting a confirmation on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who is to perform the inaugural aarti — will visit on September 17, his 71st birthday.
SOUADTGA Assistant Commissioner Nilesh Dubey told The Indian Express that the Narmada riverbed had been left dry for some time because the authority had taken up the demolition of the old bridge connecting Kevadia to Gora. Dubey said, “The release of the water following the power generation is decided by the SSNNL authorities as per the award decided by the NCA. We had undertaken the demolition of the old Gora bridge and the river was dry but as per the NCA Award, a certain amount of water has to be released to keep the river alive. With the Garudeshwar Weir in place, the water is retained in downstream of the dam… The water is sufficient to restart the Ekta Cruise for the visitors as it is one of the major attractions. It is also sufficient to have the aarti at the ghats but we do not have a confirmation of PM Modi’s visit for September 17 yet. However, if not on September 17, it will certainly take place on October 31 (the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel).”
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