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Agartala, March 29 (IANS) The electricity crisis in India's northeast has worsened due to prolonged dry spells leading to falling water levels in rivers and reservoirs of all the major hydel power projects, a Tripura minister said Friday.
Due to the severe power crisis, drinking water supply, irrigation facilities and industrial activities have become irregular across the region, spanning seven states, excluding Sikkim.
"The power-starved northeastern region has been hit by a severe electricity crisis since the beginning of this month following dry spells," Tripura Power Minister Manik Dey told reporters.
"Most of the hydel power plants in the region have either stopped or reduced generation to a large extent due to severe shortage of water in their reservoirs, making the situation worse. Gas and coal-based power projects also sharply reduced generation capacity due to numerous reasons."
The minister, quoting meteorological department officials, said that after the four-month monsoon period (June to September) last year, there was no rain or at best only scanty amounts, leading to decreased water flow.
"The water level in reservoirs of the power projects has gone down drastically, severely affecting their power production capacity. The situation might deteriorate further if the region did not receive rain within the next few weeks," he said.
The power crisis has affected irrigation and drinking water supply, but priority from the available supply has been given to hospitals, drinking water, irrigation sector and other emergency services, he added.
Meteorological department officials, however, said that the ongoing dry spells during the pre-monsoon period are a normal phenomenon.
"Some rains are likely to occur in the next couple of days," a Met department official told IANS.
The Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited's (TSECL) chief told IANS that demand-supply gap of electricity ranges between 60-70 percent in most of the northeastern region.
"The electricity crisis has also been affecting the industrial and business activities," TSECL chairman-cum-managing director Niladri Sekhar Chakraborty said, adding the demand has also risen by 25-30 percent due to mounting temperatures.
The peak hours demand of power in the northeast region is around 2,300 MW.
Dey said the region's major hydel projects - Nagaland's Doyang (generation capacity 75 MW), Assam's Kopili one and Kopili two (200 MW and 25 MW) and Khandong (50 MW), Manipur's Loktak (105 MW) and Arunachal's Ranganadi (405 MW) - have seen their generation dip by a fourth to a one-fifth.
"Moreover, these projects are being running only a few hours a day," he added.
Tripura's lone mini Dambur hydel power project (8 MW) has stopped functioning for several months due to the crisis.