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28 Jul 2017

Shut down due to Gorkhaland agitation, hydel projects losing crores every day

Supporters of the Gorkhaland movement chant slogans at Sukna village in Darjeeling district.Pramod Giri, HT, 27 July 2017, Siliguri: The Gorkhaland agitation has not only paralysed life in the Darjeeling hills ever since the bandh started 41 days ago, it has also forced five hydel power generation units – two owned by the cash-strapped Bengal government – to lose money running into crores of rupees every day.

Among the hardest hit are two projects run by Faridabad-based National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) Ltd and two operated by West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (WBSEDCL). The fifth is Bengal’s first private sector hydel power project operated by Nippon Power Ltd.

The Teesta Low Dam Project III (TLDP III) at Rambi, which produces 132 megawatt of power a day, and TLDP IV at Kalijhora, which produces 160 megawatt, were closed following massive agitation on July 12 and July 13. These projects were commissioned in 2013 and 2016.

“The closure of TLDP III and TLDP IV have resulted in loss of around Rs 2.5 crore a day,” said Debajit Chattopadhyay, executive director of NHPC Ltd.
Though NHPC officials are trying to work out a truce with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other parties, the move has not yielded result because the agitators want both the Centre and the state to feel the pressure.

The Bengal government gets 12% of the power generated from these projects and sells it to consumers. The shutdown has made the state lose revenue to the tune of Rs 30 lakh a day.
The agitation has hit the state exchequer hard following suspension of production at the 51-megawatt Rammam project and the 44-megawatt Jaldhaka project owned by WBSEDCL.

Gorkhaland supporters forced WBSEDCL to stop all operations at Rammam on June 25. The Jaldhaka project was shut down after three Gorkhaland supporters were killed at Sonada and Darjeeling on July 7 and July 8. WBSEDCL is losing at least Rs 50 lakh day, a senior official told HT.

Being a small project, the three-megawatt Nippon unit at Lodama used to sell its entire production to WBSEDCL. After it was shut down the company started losing money.

Since Bengal supplies more power than it consumes, closure of these five units have however not resulted in any crisis, officials said.

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