After concentrating on thermal power for a long time, the West Bengal government has now decided to give priority to the development of hydro power projects in the 12th and 13th plan period. For that, the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL), one of the three state run power companies, which has been entrusted with the task of developing hydro power projects, has carried out study in different aspects of hydro power development in the state and identified up to the end of 11th plan period (up to 31st March, 2012) that West Bengal has the estimated conventional hydro power potential including canal falls up to 1,500MW and the pump storage type hydro up to 4,800MW.
So far the state has harnessed nearly 1,078 MW hydro power, of which conventional hydro including canal fall is about 178 MW and pumped storage type hydro is 900 MW. According to WBSEDCL, during the last part of the 11th Plan period renovation, modernisation and revival of the age old hydro power stations like Jaldhaka (35 MW) in Darjeeling district and some other small hydro power stations with capacity varying from 2 MW to 4 MW have been completed and revived back to operation by 31st December, 2012. Also, Jaldhaka’s generation capacity has been enhanced by addition of another 9.9 MW. Rammam hydro power station got additional generation capacity for lean period.
However, Darjeeling’s turbulent political situation and the state government’s hands off’ policy might come as a major hindrance to the implementation of some of these projects. As of now, the WBSEDCL has initiated pre-construction stage activities like design & engineering, acquisition of land, etc, for two more hydro projects (viz Rammam intermediate hydro electricity project and Pedong) of 12 MW and 3 MW respectively. Both these projects fall within Darjeeling district.
The company has also taken up detailed survey and preparation of DPR for conventional hydro power stations like Farakka Barrage hydro project (125 MW). Rammam stage-1 (56 MW), Rammam Ultimate (24 M) and Teesta Low Dam project (225 MW). The WBSEDCL has got one pump storage project at Purulia’s Ayodhyapahar (900 MW) which is performing well. Now, two more pump storage hydro projects at Purulia are being conceived by WBSEDCL.
These are Turga project (1,000 MW) and Bandhu project (900 MW), the DPR of these two are in preparatory stage. But, it is learnt that the WBSEDCL officials are not about the future of the projects which would be located in Darjeeling districts. According to one top official of WBSEDCL, who does not want to identified, they don’t see any problem with Farakka Barrage project and Purulia’s two pump storage projects Also, one can pursue Raidak project in Jalpaiguri district. But, “no move should be initiated to work in Darjeeling district in the present situation”, he observed. In that case, Rammam and Teesta projects would be the casualties.