Latest Odisha Business News ;More storage dams to avert Uttarakhand type tragedy: Expert , #News #odianewsupdate

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Latest Odisha Business News ;More storage dams to avert Uttarakhand type tragedy: Expert

Bhubaneswar: Construction of hydro power projects in a planned manner is unlikely to interfere with stability of the Himalayas which offer maximum unexploited hydro power potential, says an expert.

“Scientists fear that the calamity in Uttarakhand a few months ago is a precursor to bigger and more destructive floods. So more storage projects should be taken up in the Himalayan region to avoid such disasters in future,” M M Madan, Director (Hydel) at GVK Group says.

Madan expressed the view in a paper presented at the annual convention of Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE)) which concluded here yesterday.

Favouring more ‘run of the river’ (ROR) projects without much interference with natural silt movement down the river, he said the hydro projects could not have in any way contributed to the Uttarakhand catastrophe.

“In fact, the Tehri Hydro Project, which is a storage project, absorbed the excess discharge in the Bhagirathi and helped in saving towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar in the downstream,” he said claiming that the storage dams “are savior for the downstream population.”

INAE is a top body of engineers and technocrats in the country. The Academy which recognises excellence in engineering through its awards, honoured several engineers and scientists at an award function last evening.

Observing that hydro power projects were the second largest contributor of India’s energy demand, Madan said this sector received the least priority as compared to thermal projects despite being the most efficient and economical energy source.

Bemoaning that power supply position of India was declining day-by-day due to lack of fuel, poor implementation and poorer hydro-thermal mix, he said it is essential to have 40-60 mix of hydro, thermal and other sources of energy to have a satisfactory power supply position.

“At the end of the 11th plan, this mix was 21-79, creating an imbalance in the power management,” said Madan, former Executive Director of NHPC Ltd.

On pros and cons of hydro power development, Madan said today’s hydel plants had an efficiency of more than 90 per cent and they had low operational and maintenance costs once the project was commissioned.

On the flip side are high upfront costs when building large hydel plants, large displacement and relief and rehabilitation issues, submergence of vast areas and opposition by pro-environment lobbies.

Madan, however, pointed out that in Norway, hydro power’s share of its total generation was 99 per cent followed by 84 per cent (Brazil), 74 per cent (Venezuela), 59 per cent (Canada), 49 per cent (Sweden). But India’s hydel share of total generation stood at 18 per cent.

Referring to the Uttarakhand disaster, the expert said torrential rain and unplanned construction mainly contributed to the tragedy. The unseasonal heavy rainfall caused the water level to rise in the rivers and the cloud burst triggered a sudden increase in water level.

Noting that the surface air temperature of Indian Himalayas had increased by one degree Celsius in the past one decade, he said it caused the Himalayan glaciers to melt rapidly causing Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) without any warning and formation of several new glacial lakes.

He said besides rainfall, huge quantity of water was released into the river from melting of ice and glaciers due to high temperatures during the months of May and June.

Claiming that the role of the hydro projects was nil in the catastrophe, the expert said large amount of debris generated by road construction and unplanned disposal of the same on the hill slopes caused flowing of muck into the river and raising of the river bed.

The other reasons for the disaster included non-execution of the CAT (Catchment Area Treatment) plan, deforestation and uncontrolled movement of AC tourist vehicles in the region, he said.

Citing the example of Bhakra dam, which now generates India’s cheapest power at 22 paise per unit, he said it saved lives and property both in India and Pakistan during high floods in 2000 and absorbed unprecedented quantity of flood waters this year.

Similarly, Tehri Dam retained waters of an engorged Bhagirathi river thereby preventing a 10 to 12 feet rise in the Ganga at Rishikesh which could have been ruinous for the town, he said, adding, “a right blend of storage dams with ROR projects in each basin can mitigate flood fury”. PTI

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