Hydel Power Crisis Looms over Meghalaya as Low Water Levels Jeopardize Electricity Generation
Meghalaya’s power crisis has intensified in recent days as the water level at a crucial dam used for hydel electricity production has reached a historic low. Power Minister A. T. Mondal has warned that the situation may worsen further, and power generation could be suspended if the water level at Umiam Lake drops another foot.
In a statement, Mondal revealed, “The water level as of today is 3,165 feet. This is the lowest in the history of the lake. The lowest water level recorded was 3,170 feet a few years ago.” To generate electricity, hydel power projects require a minimum water level, and the minimum level required for power generation at Umiam is 3,164 feet.
Umiam Lake, built in the early 1960s, is situated approximately 10 kilometers north of Shillong. The reservoir has a maximum water level of 3,210 feet (978.41 meters). The current water scarcity has resulted in a severe shortage of power supply in the state, with only 88 million units available against a demand of 200 million units, according to a senior power department official.
Furthermore, an additional 35 million units from the Kopili Stage I project are unavailable due to a technical snag in the generation unit. Additionally, power supplies from two other plants in the state have been shut down due to low water levels. As a result, several parts of Meghalaya are currently enduring power cuts lasting up to 10 hours daily.
Given the continuous decline in the water level, Minister Mondal emphasized that substantial rainfall is needed to increase the water level and alleviate the burden of power cuts in the future. However, with no immediate solution in sight, the power crisis in Meghalaya persists, prompting the Meghalaya High Court to criticize the state government for its failure to address the situation effectively.
Responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a divisional bench led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh directed the state government and Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited to submit separate affidavits outlining immediate, short-term, and long-term measures to tackle the power crisis. The court’s intervention aims to prompt the authorities to take urgent action and provide a roadmap to address the issue effectively.
As the people of Meghalaya face prolonged power cuts and grapple with the consequences of the water scarcity, there is a pressing need for swift and decisive action from the government. The affidavits demanded by the court will shed light on the strategies and initiatives planned to mitigate the power crisis. Meghalaya’s residents eagerly await a resolution to the ongoing ordeal and hope for a more stable and reliable power supply in the state. Until then, their reliance on heavy rainfall to alleviate the situation remains their best hope for relief.
Meghalaya, a state located in northeastern India, operates significantly on hydel power. With an abundance of rivers and water bodies, Meghalaya has harnessed the power of water to generate electricity through hydropower projects. The state has several dams and reservoirs, such as Umiam Lake, which play a crucial role in hydel electricity production. These projects harness the potential energy of water by channeling it through turbines, converting it into mechanical energy, and eventually into electrical energy.
Hydel power has been an important source of renewable energy in Meghalaya, providing a significant portion of the state’s electricity needs. However, the recent power crisis due to low water levels at Umiam Lake highlights the challenges faced in maintaining a stable hydel power supply. The state government and power authorities are now grappling with finding solutions to address the water scarcity and ensure a consistent and reliable power supply for the people of Meghalaya.
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