Union Power Ministry to bail out ailing power projects

That there can emerge several issues and problems with any project, more so in respect of hydroelectric power project, is not an uncommon factor but what appears uncommon is not addressing them side by side, thus not allowing them to be overtaken by the heaped up problems. Among the top priorities , which the successive Governments should have accorded top most attention to is the area of generating and distributing of power, not that various projects were not set up but enough was not done for which there was lot of scope. Therefore, the government should very resolutely address the power problem and see the UT emerged as self sufficient looking to the vast potential of power generation in Jammu and Kashmir, major part thereof still being unexplored and unutilised . On the power front , however, the position would have been comparatively better had four of the power projects of nearly 2000 MW not jumped the timeline of their completion and resultant commissioning, by as many as five to eight years. What happens in such a scenario is not only the concerned project was stretching itself beyond the reasonable time of completion but most importantly, resulting into cost escalation. Since such projects entail high risks , long gestation period, already having costs on the higher side and facing budgetary constraints , regular monitoring and resolution of emerging problems are the only way to put these projects on sound rails.
What exactly went wrong with the concerned four power projects with a promise of huge generating capacity must be fairly got known not only for academic purposes but as a guiding factor for future projects not meeting the same fate. Yes, we can give some leverage to projects of this type of ”running late” for a year or two , say 2020 and 2021 only due to the COVID -19 pandemic factor as the most sensitive and important component of the input / construction cost – the labour was vastly impacted but what about earlier years ? A few reasons of such overrun of time having been identified in the shape of speed of work having been slower, contractual issues, delay in supply of necessary equipment by the suppliers and manufacturers, delay in land acquisitions, disruption of work on account of local issues, litigations, changes in design and geological interventions and the like. A simple analysis of these issues would make things clear that major part thereof was directly related to poor management and flawed follow-up and monitoring process. Acquisition of land – compensation and litigations related thereto, on account of lackadaisical approach of the concerned officers routinely keep projects of high utility and importance affected. In respect of other causes and reasons, less said the better.
All the four units of Pakal Dul Hydroelectric Project in Kishtwar , for example were scheduled to be completed by 2020-21 and generate 250 MW of power shall now be hopefully completed by the end of 2026 and nearly Rs.430 crore have been spent on it till 2019-20 while Rs.430 crore was spent during 2020-21 and another Rs.174 crore till date during the current financial year. Still, the project being infested with problems is quite unfortunate on the part of management and execution process of making of this power Project. Similar is the case of Parnai Hydroelectric Project in Poonch district which was to be completed by 2017-18 to generate 12.5 MW of power, shall now be ready by the end of 2023. So is the case of Kalnai Project and Ratle Power project in Doda district as also Kiro Power project. To put an end to the element of uncertainty in respect of these power projects , Union Ministry of Power has decided to bail out these projects of the hiatus of expected levels of their construction activities and also to bear the added cost of production on account of prolonged gestation period , rather very slow or nil construction activities.
It is quite satisfying that frequent visits of the ailing projects are being conducted by the Union Ministry to know the exact causes of various problems faced by these projects, interacting with developers and stake holders and see how to resolve the problems. Let it be now hoped that at least by the redrawn timeframe, these projects of high expectations are duly completed.