At a time when the
country is grappling with power shortage, and there are concerns on coal and gas
supplies, the picture is far from rosy for hydropower producers either. Water
levels across 81 reservoirs are down to 16 per cent. The situation could turn
grim if the rain God does not show mercy. Despite the tough times, Satluj Jal
Vidyut Nigam Ltd has shown the grit by delivering more than the targets year
after year. During an interaction with InfralinePlus’ Priyanka Singh, Chairman
and Managing Director SJVN Raghunath Prasad Singh, the force behind the growth,
detailed his vision of taking the company to the next level.
With ever increasing power requirement of Indian industry there would always be pressure on power producers irrespective of the route they follow. Kindly put into perspective the current installed and generation capacities of the company?
Current installed capacity of SJVN Limited is 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station in Himachal Pradesh, which is India’s largest hydro power station and generation achieved during the financial year 2011-12 was 7610 MUs against design energy of 6612 MU and MoU target of 6900 MU. SJVN has been continuously surpassing the established bench marks for generation through its 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station year after year.
How do you plan to expand the capacity going forward? Kindly share the short term goals of your company. In the times to come do we see diversification for power generation?
SJVN as a company started its journey as a single project organisation wherein the mandate was to construct and operate country’s largest 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri HEP. After its successful completion, SJVN went into expansion mode and was entrusted to develop 412 MW Rampur HEP. In the above context, the short term plan in immediate terms is to commission 412 MW Rampur HEP in Himachal Pradesh by September 2013 which is under advanced stage of construction.
Apart from above, SJVN
has been targeted to commence the construction works of 66 MW Dhaulasidh HEP in
Himachal Pradesh, 60 MW Naitwar Mori HEP and 252 MW Devsari HEP in Uttarakhand
by the end of financial year 2012-13, for which environment clearance is
SJVN is also enriching
its project portfolio by diversifying into wind, solar and thermal power
sectors. The construction works of 50 MW wind power project is targeted to
commence from Jan 2013.
Are you also planning to foray in other countries? Can you throw light on some of these projects that are in the pipeline outside India?
SJVN is spreading its wings in neighbouring countries, Nepal and Bhutan too. In Nepal, SJVN has bagged Arun-III HEP through the process of international competitive bidding. DPR of the project as prepared by the SJVN has been submitted to CEA for Techno Economic Appraisal / clearance and construction will be taken up after signing of Project Implementation agreement with the Nepal Government. In Bhutan, SJVN has prepared Detailed Project Reports (DPR) for Wangchu HEP 570 MW and Kholongchu HEP (600 MW). DPRs of these projects are currently under examination by CEA for Techno Economic Appraisal / clearance. SJVN is in the process of forming a joint venture with Druk Green Power Corporation of Bhutan for implementation of these projects.
Your presence, in terms of power generation, has so far been limited to the two states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Are you also looking at other states to tap resources?
As you all are aware that the hydro power projects are installed in the states, where availability and gradient of flowing water is found. SJVN is currently operating in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur and is looking forward for taking up new power projects in Arunachal Pradesh, where bulk of the underdeveloped hydro potential (57,000 MW) lies.
What is your plan on the investment front? Has the investment been lined up?
SJVN has accrued around Rs. 2500 crore so far by operating the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station. SJVN propose to fund the projects by way of investing 30 percent of the project cost from its internal resources as equity and the balance 70 percent by raising debts from the various financial institutions/ banks, multilateral agencies etc. SJVN has planned to invest Rs. 10,400 crore during the 12th plan (2012-17), out of which Rs. 3120 crore shall be invested as equity from internal resources and the balance Rs. 7280 crore shall be raised as loans.
Please take us through the challenges that companies in this domain face while installing hydro capacities. What are the requirements in terms of infrastructure development for setting up hydro projects?
we all are aware that hydro projects are usually constructed in hilly terrain
where water and gradient that is head is available. The hydro projects developed
so far are at the locations where infrastructure facilities such as proper road
connectivity and construction power were available. The untapped hydro potential
is presently in the extremely remote locations and lacks the basic
infrastructure facilities like roads, construction power, communications etc.
These are difficult mountaineous areas which lack basic infrastructure
facilities such as road network capable of handling the movement of heavy plant
and machinery, availability of uninterrupted construction power and
communication facilities. This results into additional incurrence of cost and
time in developing the basic infrastructural facilities before the construction
activities of the hydro project can actually commence.
Further with the greater
awareness of the local populace, the land acquisition is one of the major
challenges. The basic perception of taking away livelihood of people dependent
upon the proposed acquisition of land is one of the greatest stumbling block.
Generally, the frequency of transaction of land is very less in the hill areas
and as such people bemoan that the compensation rate fixed by the state
government does not incentivise them to part with the land.
issues with the hydro projects and its greater awareness globally have led to
experiencing great difficulty in getting the environmental clearance. This is
also reflected in the stringent compliance conditions stipulations by Ministry
of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and thus the whole process has become tedious
and time consuming.
The land acquisition,
finalization of Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan, comprehensive basin-wise
catchment area treatment plan and accordance of various related clearances from
various agencies has become quite time consuming and comes across as an
impediment to the project developer. The government has tried to streamline
procedures to some extent, but the multiplicity of agencies and the lack of
clear guidelines have led to time and cost overruns.
In hydro projects with
pondage, wildlife nourishment in the area and their travel routes changes to the
natural variations in the water in a watercourse etc. Changes to the water level
throughout the year can lead to scouring of fine substances and nourishment and
cause erosion in the regulation zone. Draining would be completely devastating
to the fish. The amount of water will also affect the fish in different ways,
depending on the age and species of the fish.
Proposed hydro projects
construction duration are envisaged based on the prevailing geology and progress
rate that can be achieved on daily and seasonal basis that is raining or snowing
for period more than predicated for the area. Much among these, geology involved
in projects components, specially the head-race tunnel, as it stretches to
longer extent in run of river projects, magnifies the delay.
How does your company tackle these challenges while installing the units?
To mitigate the
challenges posed by lack of infrastructural facilities like non-availability of
roads, SJVN takes up the matter proactively with state government and Ministry
of Surface Transport, Government of India for construction of roads. During
execution of 1500 MW NJHEP, a 20 km long Shimla bypass road was constructed by
Ministry of Surface Transport so as to ensure the transportation of heavy
construction machinery and the generating equipments.
SJVN, while acquiring
land for its projects negotiates with the land owners in consultation with the
state authorities. The compensation in general is higher than the prevailing
average market value based on the negotiated price keeping in mind the interest
of land oustees. The Relief and Rehabilitation (R&R) measures are formulated
after series of consultations with various stakeholders including land oustees
and the state government and it has been always ensured that the R&R provisions
are always kept higher than the provisions made in the National Policy on R&R.
studies are carried out in most scientific manner so as to assess the potential
damage to environment if any and measures to mitigate it in the most adequate
manner. SJVN in all its projects takes necessary environmental safeguards, which
includes afforestation programmes, catchment area treatment plan, biodiversity
conservation plans, green belt and landscaping restoration of dumping areas,
control of air and noise pollution, muck disposal, drinking water supply system,
sewage and solid waste management plans, fisheries development plans, disaster
management and environmental monitoring programmes.
How do you cope up with various natural disturbances that might pose difficulties during the execution of projects?
Hydro power projects
are site specific and therefore the potential of a hydro project depends much on
the geological features of that area. As we all are aware that power potential
prevailing in the lower reaches of the Himalayan region, which were well
connected with the roads and construction was available, has already been tapped
and potential in the upper reaches of Himalaya remain unharnessed. These upper
reaches have high gradients and lack basic infrastructure facilities like roads,
construction power, communication and evacuation of power.
During execution, hydro
power projects have always been suffered by geological surprises like shear
zones, cavity formations, high temperature zones and flooding of tunnels during
underground constructions. These problems encountered increase the efforts
required and thus cost of the project shoots up and shatters the funding plans
and envisaged commissioning schedule. SJVN adopts various measures, like
additional supports, deployment of additional machineries, and change in design
etc. to tackle the unforeseen geological conditions. To address these
challenges, SJVN has adopted a comprehensive monitoring system that keeps a
check on cost and time over runs.
operation stage, silt is also a major problem in Himalayan Rivers which hamper
the generation plans during operation. Under water parts suffer major damages
causing frequent forceful shut downs of the plants. In order to counter the
menace of silt and thus reducing the time for maintenance shutdowns, SJVN
established a hard coating plant for the underwater parts at its Nathpa Jhakri
Power station and all the underwater parts are hard coated at the site itself
which has not only considerably reduced the downtime but has also raised on
productivity as in evident from our annual reports and the balance sheet.
What according to you should the developers do to fast track the execution of project?
in the development of hydro projects located in upper reaches, have to involve
themselves in the development of basic infrastructure facilities for their
projects. This involvement may many times results in increase in the cost and
delay in completion of the project.
SJVN during the
development of Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station was much involved in the
development of NH-22 for preventing any delay in the schedule supplies.
People nowadays are much
aware of the land acquisition process and as such the land acquisition sometimes
get stuck in its various stages. Compensation disbursed by the developers are
always in accordance to the rate finalized by the concerned authorities, but
demand for higher compensation sometimes leads to the sticking up of the
acquisition process. A complete and compact Resettlement and Rehabilitation
program with increase in amount of awareness that these hydro projects are
planned to harness the potentials in resonance with local development can only
be best possible way out for such problems.
(InfralineEnergy thanks Raghunath Prasad Singh, Chairman and
Managing Director for sharing his valuable insights with our
readers. The column 'In-Conversation', is a platform to engage
experts from various sectors to share their views on the different
transformations happening in the Indian energy sector.)