Hydro Electric Power Industry: A must for Manipur – Part 1

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N Shyamsundar Singh

Introduction: The state of Manipur lags far behind the other states of the country in terms of development and rate of growth of economy. The state is so far unable to contribute and share its resources meaningfully with other parts of country to earn substantial revenue. Rather, it continues to depend on the centre and other states for all sorts of essential commodities and other requisites including power. This has resulted in inadvertent delay in making headway towards development front of all sectors. The priority sectors namely the education, healthcare, communication, media, and small industries have not so far been able to deliver the desired quantum of service because of want of adequate core infrastructure.

Electricity – An essential commodity: In this knowledge era, the competitive efficiency is not achievable without electricity and without competitive efficiency a better economic performance shall remain a distant dream. The socio-economic degradation shall however continue unabated as usual.

To-day, every individual, irrespective of age, class, clan and profession, has the right to demand his or her share of reliable power that is required for education, health care, career building and earning livelihood at affordable cost. Even at the time of death also, one may need electricity in place of firewood for one’s cremation. Thus, considering its great importance and significant indispensability, electricity is recognized as an essential commodity along with food, medicine etc.

Electricity – A constituent of core infrastructure: Being one of the key inputs for the scientific and technological activities involved in all sectors, electricity also play a dominant role in the process of development of economy of the state. With the intensive use of power in all walks of life, modern world is able to move faster towards a new horizon where both the space gap and the time gap get reduced to a minimal. In short, life without electricity is something unimaginable now. Thus, electricity is considered as a major constituent of core infrastructure besides road and water supply.

Electricity – An Industry: With the increase in the use of electricity for various domestic, scientific, industrial and business purposes, the demand for electricity has been increasing rapidly in both urban and rural areas across the country. This phenomenon has made Power Sector the largest of all the sectors. Thus, the production/generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity at a large scale for sale to different load centres of the country or abroad with the help of existing power market, have already assumed the role of a big industry.

The Electricity Industry is given importance so much so that scores of interested parties from private sector have been attracted to the power business soon after the economic liberalization is introduced in early nineties in India. The power market has also become an important conjunctive market with capital market. Recently the Government of India has also taken serious initiatives to review and amend the rules and regulations in its relevant policies and Acts with the primary objective to attract more promoters, investors and developers from within and outside the country. Hopefully, the modified norms shall facilitate sustainable development of the energy resources to a greater extent.

An Industry for Manipur: That Industry is the backbone of economy is always true for the simple reason that no major economic transformation has been possible without perceptible contributions made by the industrial sector. A couple of large scale industries shall be able to provide the requisite support for the subsidiary industries like sports industry, education industry, media industry etc. that play significant role in human resources development of the state. Other industries like tourism industry, pharmaceutical industry etc for which Manipur has fairly enough potential may also be developed as a part and parcel of a major industry like Hydro Electric Plant. Thus the state of Manipur also needs to have the kind of industry that can prop up and transform the economy of the state meaningfully.

The basic component any industry needs first, is the availability of raw materials and its adequacy for consistent round the year production. The other prerequisites include core infrastructure like smooth connectivity, reliable power supply and water supply, use of state of the art technology, skilled and non skilled laborers and congenial environment.
Therefore, reconnaissance of the potent area is inevitable at the first instance in order to assess the potential in terms of the quality and the quantity of the raw materials available and establish the preliminary feasibility. The preliminary feasibility report shall provide the foundation for carrying out detailed investigation on other aspects vis-a-vis development of the specific industry. Financial implications, resource mobilization, demand pattern in the market, competitive price of the product in market, financial analysis & management and business plan etc. are the other vital considerations to be made and taken into account while establishing the techno -economic feasibility of the project.

Hydro Electric Power Industry for Manipur: A detailed survey being carried out on various aspects and parameters shall definitely reveal that in the land locked state of Manipur, the prospect of having a successful material based industry of the desired magnitude is really grim. However, Mother Nature has gifted the state with huge power potential that is estimated at about 2,000 MW in its hilly rivers. A part of the power so produced can be used for domestic consumption and the balance for selling to several load centres of the country or abroad with the help of the existing vast transmission network and the power market. The sale proceed shall form an integral part of the perceptible contributions to the economy of the state as done by a big industry. The free power at the rate of 12 p.c. of the total generation (about 250MW) alone shall generate an annual revenue income of Rs.750 Cr at the present price level. For a revenue starved state like Manipur, this return is quite substantial and very encouraging. Therefore the bottom line is that for this hilly state where there is plenty of hydropower potential, electricity industry is the only industry which is technically and commercially viable and it only can support all economic, social and cultural limbs of the society.

For this kind of industry, the raw material is readily available in abundant quantity; it is Import independent; the generated power is evacuated through efficient & reliable transmission line; power market is readily available for sale of power; operation & maintenance problem is comparatively less; less man power is required for running & maintenance; have less human resources management problem and it is clean energy and eco-friendly too.

Climate Change & Thermal Power Plants:
About 70 p.c. of the total electricity generation of the country come from the thermal power plants which are operated on fossil fuels and natural gas. The remaining comes from Hydro Electric power plants, nuclear power plants and other renewable energy sources like Solar Energy & Wind Energy etc.

Meanwhile, it has been found that the known reserve of fossil fuels and natural gas in India is estimated to last for about 100 years or so, if the consumption is continued further at the present rate. The emerging situation will therefore have a direct impact on the energy security of next generations.

On the other side, since the beginning of the industrial revolution, mankind has been burning all kinds of hydrocarbons like coal, fuel oil and natural gas for the purpose of obtaining motive power, transport, electricity generation and a variety of other uses. All these processes released carbon dioxide in large quantities into the atmosphere. On top of it, land use changes like large scale deforestation and subsequent burning of huge bio-mass in the name of urbanization and industrialisation etc. have also emitted substantial quantum of carbon dioxide. The increasing atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide allows most of the short wave Solar Energy to reach the surface of the earth but obstructs the release of long-wave heat energy back into space thereby trapping the heat in the atmosphere and causing global warming and hence the Climate Change. The phenomenon concerns one & all as it would affect the future of our planet, our children, our civilization and our existence.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already sounded the alarm and emphasized the immediate need for significant reduction in emission of Carbon Dioxide. This will have a direct impact on the Thermal Power Plants of the country.

Renewable Energy – An ultimate option:
Thus, the fast depletion of the known reserve of fossil fuels and natural gas on one hand and the need for reduction of carbon emission to combat climate change on the other, have urged the Scientists, Engineers and Technologists of the country to evolve a new paradigm of the energy generation strategy. The new trend has its aim at the development of Renewable Energy (RE) Technologies for generation of electricity at a large scale. The decision makers and planners of the country are also aware of the challenges ahead that pose a real threat to the energy security of future generations.

Many a number of Renewable Energy sources have been identified and harnessed by several authorities across the globe using a range of ever evolving technologies with a view to harvesting commercially the clean energy available in it.

Solar energy is radiant light and heat from the sun and it tops the list of highly appealing source of electricity. The International Energy Agency (IEA) asserted that the development of clean solar energy technologies shall have huge longer-term benefits. Solar Energy shall ensure energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible and mostly import-independent resource and at the same time, it also enhances sustainability, reduces pollution and arrests environmental degradation.

However, the solar energy potential in the NE Region is relatively less due to clouds and length of the day. Precisely, Manipur has a total of about 122 sunshine days in a year. Therefore, it is not advisable to go for bigger solar units than 1 or 2 KW unit. With this kind of system, the state may not be able to manage and meet the rapidly growing power requirements of its domestic, industrial and other bulk consumers.

Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines which act as the prime mover of the turbine generator set, for generation of electricity. Wind Energy is also not a suitable choice for Manipur as both the speed and density of wind are not adequate & dependable enough for large scale generation. The other RE sources namely Biomass, Biogas, Biofuel and Geothermal may not produce considerable quantum of power at affordable cost in Manipur. Tidal power is developed at the coastal areas only.

Notably, Hydro Electric Power potential is also a renewable energy source. As already mentioned somewhere, nature has gifted the state with huge hydro power potential of more than 2000MW in its lake and hilly rivers. The natural resource can be harnessed at environmentally & techno-economically feasible locations for large scale generation of clean electrical energy under a long term plan. This kind of development shall enable the state to get itself exempted from Renewable Energy Purchase Obligation (RPO).

Development Experience: The Central Water & Power Commission (CWPC), which was bifurcated later into the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), carried out the Detailed Survey & Investigation (DSI) of Loktak Hydro Electric (Multipurpose) Project in the State in early sixties and prepared the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project. Few officials from the lone State Engineering Department were also taken on deputation and engaged in the DSI.

The practice normally followed in those days, permitted the project authority to concentrate more on the hydrology and other technical details including design of components of the proposed project. The subsidiary reports namely the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) which form an integral part of DPR to-day, were not given equal importance as that of the technical report. Rather the report was a concept base and it primarily aimed at successful delivery of the basic need to the needy for achieving the goal of enlightening and developing the society.

In those days, there was only one Deputy Commissioner (DC) for the entire valley of the state. The land records were maintained by the DCs office at Imphal. The population density in the villages surrounding Loktak Lake was comparatively low and the land use pattern was totally different from what has been practicing these days. The orthodox residents in those villages might have used the Khas land located near the lake as grazing ground or paddy field and enjoyed the natural produces from it. They never claimed through the concerned authority that they were the owners of the land they cultivated. Nor did the district revenue authority who are well aware of the project being constructed in and around the lake, raised the issue for incorporation in the DPR. The DPR was finalized and submitted for accord of techno economic clearance in 1969.

Perhaps, people of Manipur have almost forgotten that environment is a part of our life. This is substantiated by the fact that everywhere in Manipur, the forest, so also the environment, has already degraded, as a result of man made mistakes like mass deforestation, extensive earthwork and undeterred encroachment; whatever available is either degraded or critically degraded.

The Environment in Manipur is like a chemical compound comprising of several ingredients that undergo unfavorable changes through physical and chemical processes over period of time. For instance, large scale deforestation, distortion in the air and water cycles, unchecked flow of pollutants including untreated sewage industrial effluents, pesticides and domestic garbage cause all forms of harm and damage to the environment and ultimately affect the lives of all living beings in various ways. (To be contd)

Source: The Sangai Express

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