Less than a year after it was commissioned in a function presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the 850-crore hydel power project at Chutak, Kargil, has broken down due to flooding, leaving most of the district without power.
The 44MW project supplies electricity to civilian and military areas in the entire Kargil district. Kargil town and surrounding areas, including military administration offices have been operating on diesel generators due to disruption in power supply since June 28.
Three out of four floors of the underground power plant were submerged on June 28, forcing the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation to shut operations. Ten days later, one floor is still flooded, and drying and repair work is going on.
Local sources alleged that there was no proper monitoring and the night watchman on duty did not notice the flooding for several hours. NHPC officials, however, denied the allegations.
Senior officers of NHPC said actual cause of the seepage can be determined only after dewatering is completed. However, they said damage to the bolts of the draft tube which supplies water to the turbine was suspected to be the cause. Official sources also said repair work is likely to take several weeks, but one turbine may be made operational within a month to restore supply to Kargil.
The flood waters, which climbed upto 17 metres inside the powerhouse, have damaged the turbine but left the electrical equipment undamaged. Pumps had to be sourced from Jalandhar and Chandigarh to pump out the water, while professional divers were called in to open the manually operated release gates of the plant so that the water could flow out to the Suru river. A committee of senior officers has also been sent in to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
The hydel power plant located on the Suru river near Kargil town has four turbines capable of producing over 44 MW of power. Completed in 2013, the plant has never operated at full capacity since the transmission lines needed to connect it to the National Power Grid are yet to be laid. Om Prakash, NHPC Executive director, Jammu & Kashmir, told The Indian Express that the plant cannot be made fully operational till the transmission lines are laid. The work of laying the transmission lines and connecting the plant to the National Power Grid started this year and is likely to be completed by 2019.