A revival of Jammu and Kashmir’s first hydroelectric project in Mohra, constructed in 1905, is on the state government’s radar. The Mohra HEP, was constructed as run-of-river scheme back in 1905, with the initial installed capacity of 4 megawatt (MW).
The J&K State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) is looking at reviving the site as a heritage project and also aiming for a functional restoration of the old powerhouse with an increased power generation capacity of 9 MW.
Shah Faesal, managing director, JKSPDC, told The Indian Express: “We have prepared the detailed project report (DPR). There are challenges with preserving the heritage character of the site. We are approaching heritage conservationists to see the options available for revival of at least some part of the project, apart from power generation.”
The project is likely to go into tender stage by April next year and cost of the project is an approximate Rs 120 crore. The corporation is set to propose funding of the project under Prime Minister’s Development Package.
The water conductor for the old project is a wooden flume approximately 11 kilometres in length and a heritage conservationist is being consulted on possible revival options. Running along the left bank of the Jhelum in North Kashmir, close to the Line of Control, the flume served multiple purposes. While it catered to the needs of the villagers for irrigation purposes, it also fed into the power house and helped generate electricity.
The DPR for the proposed revival has been prepared by the JKSPDC, which states that “by the year 1950 the power house had lived more than its useful life &, therefore, proposals for replacement of the old electro-mechanical sets by new sets of higher capacity was felt imperative & thus prepared. This necessitated the redesigning/augmentation of the initial wooden flume (water conductor) & its other connected civil structures. However, when the argumentation proposals were still at the implementation stage, the old power house got washed away due to unprecedented floods of 1959.”
In 1962, a power house with an installed capacity of 9 MW – with two units of 4.5 MW each – was commissioned and it generated electricity at a rated capacity till 1992. The same year, unprecedented floods damaged the project seriously and the project came to stand still.
The project, as per the DPR, did not generate electricity at the rated capacity because of the constant leakage accompanied by heavy precipitation resulting in the sliding of the slopes and accumulation in the wooden flume. “Also, the silt in the Jhelum river deteriorated the hydraulic parts of the imported machinery particularly the turbines which also resulted in the derating of the HEP to 2.5 MW capacities.”
Under the modernisation & rehabilitation proposal of the Mohra HEP, the JKSPDC seeks to utilise the available fall of 114 metres for the 9 MW installed capacity from the flows of the River Jhelum. As such the restoration of the project involves, construction of an intake channel, restoration and repair of walls, as well as removal of debris along with installation of turbines and generators.
A portion of the wooden flume will also need to replaced with RCC conduits as the wooden beams have given way in several parts. Mohra HEP is expected to yield annual energy generation 42.49 million units of hydro power after the project is made functional to capacity.