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REASONS FOR THE POWER CRISIS IN KARNATAKA
*) This year, the drought in Karnataka is the worst in the last 40 years. 136 taluks have been declared as drought hit. For the first time in decades, districts of coastal Karnataka and Malnad region are witnessing drought.
*) Karnataka has a good Hydroelectric Power Generation Capacity of 3600 MW, out of which Sharavati is 1400MW, Kali is 1250MW, Almatti 290 MW etc. Due to severe unprecedented drought in the areas of these hydroelectric plants, water is being conserved for drinking purposes and not being utilized to generate much of electricity. This alone has dealt a big blow to Karnataka’s power supply.
*) Wind Power generation capacity is around 1000 MW. But due to unsuitable environmental conditions, due to drought and lack of winds, this source has fallen to as low as just 17MW.
*) The government is prepared to buy all available power and has sufficient funds, but has transmission constraint issues for power to be supplied from Northern Grid to Southern Grid. 3 crucial power lines being built by the central government (Power Grid), Kuppa-Madhugiri, Yelahanka-Madhugiri and Dharmapuri-Somanahalli haven’t been completed.
*) Supply from Central Grid has lessened and in fact Karnataka is getting 900 MW lesser from central sources mostly due to drought and maintenance in central power generation plants
*) During the Monsoon months, Thermal Power Plants usually go into maintenance as this is the only period they can be shutdown(assuming hydroelectric power compensates during the monsoon months). The 500 MW Bellary Thermal Power plant and Raichur Thermal plants are under maintenance and will become operational by October.
Udupi Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) 1200 MW plant is also under maintenance because of contamination with sea water. Energy Minister visited these plants mid-August to take stock of the situation. UPCL is expected to start generation in the next few days.
*) From 2005 onward till 2013, Karnataka had not invested much in expanding its own generation capacity, with no major new plants constructed. Though demand increased rapidly, generation capacity remained same. The present Karnataka Government inherited a debt of Rs. 16,000 crores owed to power companies by the government bodies. This has resulted in very less capital investment.
Peak Demand for Power in Karnataka is around 8800 MW. Due to the above factors, Karnataka is facing a shortfall of 3400 MW.
SHORT TERM STEPS TAKEN BY THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT TO SOLVE POWER CRISIS
*) Energy Department is purchasing 900 MW of power from all sources in the open market including sugar factories and other captive power generators. More power will be purchased as the situation demands from all available sources.
*) The government is planning to invoke Section 11 of the Electricity Act, which makes it mandatory for power generating companies to supply to only State-owned electricity companies. This will bring in an additional 200 MW.
*) UPCL, BTPS and RTPS thermal stations, with a combined capacity of nearly 2000 MW have been asked to complete maintenance soon and start delivering power to the grid.
*) Energy efficiency measures are being rolled out and the citizens are requested to use water and power judiciously. LONG TERM STEPS TAKEN BY THE ENERGY DEPARTMENT TO MAKE KARNATAKA, A POWER SURPLUS STATE The mismanagement in the last decade is the prime reason why Karnataka’s power sector is not up to the mark. The current government seeks to correct this and has taken many significant steps:
*) Karnataka Government fast-tracked multiple thermal power projects since 2013. The Bellary Thermal Power Plant’s new Unit 3 with Capacity of 700 MW will be commissioned by November 2015
*) Yermarus Thermal Power Project(mega project near Raichur) is nearing completion and will add 1600 MW and will be operational from December-January 2016.
*) Damodar Valley project will add 450 MW from December.
*) Government solved land and water issues at the Kudgi Ultra Mega Power Plant(UMPP) with capacity of 4000 MW being built at Bijapur. Phase 1 with 800 MW will start supply by May 2016.
*) Power Purchase Agreements with Solar Projects worth 500 MW have been signed and these projects have been asked to complete and supply power in 12 months
*) Asia’s largest solar park with a capacity of 2000 MW will be built at Pavagada. Land lease process has already begun and the project will take 30 months to complete.
STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT TO TACKLE DROUGHT
*) Sought an interim relief of Rs. 3,050 crore based on the ground drought report and the central government is yet to release the funds sought
*) All 136 taluks which have been drought hit have been given Rs. 50 lakh each for taking emergency works such as providing drinking water
*) Requested Union government to waive off agriculture loans borrowed from nationalized banks in the State as 80% of loans are from nationalized banks. State government will waive off co-operative bank loans.
*) Funds under National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme have been utilized to create employment opportunities to the needy in the drought-affected areas of the State. Zilla Panchayats instructed to
conduct special drives to take up at least one community-based development work in every village of drought hit taluks