Heavy Silt in Satluj River Shuts Down 3 Hydropower Plants

2400 MW outage in northern grid due to silt in Satluj river

Shimla: High silt levels have shut down three major power project in Satluj Basin, starving the northern grid of 2400 MW of peaking power, as the region experienced heavy rains over the past 48 hours.

Spokesman of SJVN, a government company which operates the 1500 MW Natpha Jhakri power plant said that the silt levels in the river were very high, which forced the management to shutdown the turbines at about 2.30 p.m.

The six 250 MW turbines at the plant have a tolerance level of 4000 parts per million (PPM) of silt and should that rise, it damages vital machinery, said the spokesman.

Upstream of Nathpa plant, two power projects belonging to private developer Jaiprakash Associates having a combined installed capacity of 900 MW have also been forced to shut operations.

Managing Director of the company DP Goyal said that generation at the 2 turbines at the upcoming 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo project on Satluj River had been shut down as silt levels had crossed 17,000 ppm.

The Karcham-Wangtoo project is in its final stages of completion and all the four turbines are expected to be operational by 15 August, 2011.

The other plant on Baspa stream having a generation capacity of 300 MW has also been shut down because of the silt problem, he said.

All three plants, which supply power to the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan and Delhi, would be unable to start generations till the silt levels come down.

Other than the regular monthly shutdown for a day for maintenance purposes, this happens to the years first forced shutdown because of silt crossing critical levels.

Elsewhere, landslides triggered by the heavy rains had blocked the Manali-Leh highway near Rohtang Pass for over six hours.

“Heavy earthmover machinery was moved in,” said BM Nanta, DC Kullu, “and the blocked highway was thrown open by afternoon.”

In 24 hours, Gohar in Mandi district recorded 108 mm of rain, Shimla 40 mm, Kullu 48 mm, Dharmashala 50 mm and Kalpa in Kinnaur recorded 43 mm of rain, the met office stated. More rain has been forecast for the next 24 hours.