Serious snag in transmission

By a freak of chance, engineers of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL) have found that one of the towers of Baglihar-Kishenpur 440 KV transmission line is very frail and unsteady. The tower stands near Peerah in Ramban district and in all probability has been enfeebled by the heavy snow last winter. This area also witnesses blowing of strong winds which have the potentiality of crashing down the tower. Power shortage and recurrent fault in power supply system has been a woe against which consumers have been complaining without relent. Actually, engineers running the Baglihar hydroelectric power generation plant had come across tripping of the power house that gave rise to doubts about proper functioning of the transmission line, JK State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC), therefore, had approached the PGCIL, the organization that has the expertise, to examine and report the functionality of Baglihar-Kishenpur power transmission line. It was this team that found the tower near Peerah as feeble and likely to collapse if it was not repaired. This is a major snag and the engineers are discussing how the tower can be repaired and made serviceable.

On knowing the full story of the fault, something which the engineers of the transmission line are loath to disclose and the government keeping its lips tight, the first question coming to one’s mind is how come engineers allowed the transmission line to be carried through when they were aware that a tower could become instable owing to weather conditions of a certain place like Peerah. Secondly, why was not special treatment meted out to this particular tower owing to the fact that was located at a critical site? One can say that engineers have taken these factors lightly and treated the transmission of power almost casually.

However notwithstanding that, we have to admit that Baglihar project has been run by our engineers and successfully to a great extent. Appearance of a fault in the transmission of power or in erecting a tower is in the process and cannot be ruled out. Even in far bigger projects faults do happen and Baglihar is no exception. The question is that technically speaking this fault is too serious and will cost fairly enough besides the time if the task of repairing it is taken in hand now. The transmission line is running over crucial installations and great care has to be taken to ensure that no damage is done to civilian life or property once the task of overhauling the system at identified places is taken in hand. Actually the PGCIL was asked to report on the streamlining of the transmission system only but it was after conducting the field survey that they found the said tower in a bad condition. Hence the task for PGCIL is two-fold, namely to streamline the supply and to repair the faulty tower. It had been earlier decided to shut down the power for two days beginning 21 June on Baglihar-Kishenpur line for repairs but now the entire programme has changed after detecting the snag in the Peerah tower.

One or the other problem is dogging the JKSPDC and causing much concern to the people and the government. Recently we heard much noise in government circles that it was asking the NHPC to handover major hydroelectric power generating projects to the State. The government claimed that by doing so the position of power supply would improve considerably. But the question is whether the State has adequate technical expertise to run major power generating projects including Baglihar independently. Power supply is a crucial issue and cannot be treated out of emotionalism. The J&K State is a hilly state and it has no other source of generating power except that of hydroelectric power generation option. Just having plenty of water is not enough. Fortunately we have the required quantity of water. But after all it is the technical expertise and the funding that will make a hydropower project come true. One can say that there appears the need of comprehensive assessment of our power generating policy. At present it is in a mess. In a recent public rally the Chief Minister candidly said that he was unable to do anything more about power problem because there was big pilferage of power and on very large scale so much so that for every rupee invested in the production of power only 30 paise were realized by way of revenue. This is a very discouraging situation. Power theft and losses in transmission have been the bane of PDD and no foolproof measure has been taken to overcome these debilities. This is also one of the reasons why we suggest a comprehensive re-assessment of entire gamut of our power generating policy. Corruption has bee dogging this department which the government has failed to stamp out. And now we have also the inefficiency or irresponsibility in the department to tackle with. A way out has to be found and emotionalism has to be bidden farewell.