Hydro power producer NHPC Ltd. is incurring a loss of over Rs 2.5 crore a day due to closer in its two major projects in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. Though the plants have been put to silence as a part of ongoing separate Gorkhaland statehood movement, how far this closer can actually help the movement remains as a big question.
TLDP (Teesta Low Dam Project)-III and TLDP-IV had to be closed down following agitation of huge mob on 12th and 13th July. Agitating mob have put few other smaller power plants also under closer.
TLDP III, on river Teesta, with its installed capacity of 132MW was commissioned in the year 2011. TLDP IV (160MW) on the same river was commissioned in 2016- informed NHPC Executive Director Debajit Chattopadhyay.
“Despite having excellent monsoon water flow now, we are unable to produce. This is a national loss,” said Chattopadhyay.
Usually hydropower plants give 12% of output to the host state free of cost and sell out the rest. But, during inception of TLDP projects more than decade back, the then power starved Bengal preferred not taking the free share. Instead, opted purchasing entire output at a preferential rate. That increased Bengal’s dependency on these two projects.
Eventually, these two plants have always remained as target for the Pro-Gorkhaland activists to put state Government under pressure. Episodes of blockade during construction remained as a reason behind time overrun of 72months for TLDP III and 60 months for TLDP IV.
But Bengal’s present power profile shows a different picture. “After meeting our statewide requirement of 8000MW, now we have 2000MW surplus. We are trying to sell a large portion of that to Bangladesh,” said Bengal Power Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay on Monday.
Naturally, “The activists should realize that closer of TLDP or other small power plants in hills cannot put much of pressure on Bengal,” said power sector experts.
But, immediate withdrawal of blockade is also not possible as that can be interpreted as weakness of the movement leadership.
Understandably, sandwiched between the two, NHPC remains as victim of the situation.