Development, generation and utilization of electricity determine a country's potential to rise and excel economically, politically as well as socially. Hence, our country's hydropower generation projects play a major role in taking us to higher dimensions of development and resource-utilization. In fact, these water-resources of the country which cater to most of the cities' and villages' electricity needs are milestones in the path to India becoming the world's super power.
Electrical energy sources
Solar energy, hydro-power and nuclear-energy are traditionally electricity-generation methodologies. Wind power and tidal energy are contemporary concepts in electricity-generation which received attention during the recent years. Since fossil fuels like petroleum and coal are at the verge of exhaustion, the scope for development of alternatives to petroleum has increased. The Indian government is currently focusing on such alternative energy-sources to cater to the country's energy-needs. In the long run, India's abundant resource-potential can help us achieve the much-needed energy security. But for this, the alternative-energy sector of the nation should develop further.
Importance of hydropower
Considering the many alternatives to fossil fuels like hydro-power, solar energy, wind power, tidal power, geothermal energy, nuclear energy, bio-mass energy and so on, one can easily identify the advantages hydro-power generation has over the other alternatives. In a country which has innumerable number of rivers and streams flowing through various cities and villages, hydropower generation is the most effective and cheap method to generate electricity. Our country already has many hydropower projects and more are under construction. Post-independence, the leaders who came into power have realized the value of the country's water-resources and hydropower has gradually turned into our major sources of electricity-generation.
Hydropower projects of India
Hydro electricity accounts to about 25% of the total electricity produced in India. Our country has the potential to generate 1, 50,000 Mega Watt hydro-electricity. At present, all of our hydropower projects together generate 25, 000 mega Watt electricity. The major hydropower projects in India are listed below along with their locations and capacities:
The Sidrapong hydropower station is the first ever hydropower station in India. This project is located near Darjeeling in West Bengal. The project was initiated in 1897 by the Government at a cost of 1.2lakh rupees. In 1997, the central government designated this hydropower project as a "'Heritage power-station'. Currently, due to machine-inefficiency, the Sidrapong hydropower project is left closed.
2.Bhakra Nangal :
The Bhakra Nangal power project is located at the Sutlej river of Bilaspur district in Himachal Pradesh. This project is one of the first hydropower projects initiated in independent India. The construction of Bhakra Nangal power project, which started in 1948, was completed in 1963. The Nangal dam is located 13kilometers from Bhakra. While 1325 Megawatt electricity is generated from Bhakra project, 150 M.W units electricity is generated from two power houses situated in the Nangal dam.
The Nagarjuna Sagar, constructed across the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh is the world's largest masonry-dam. This dam is one among the country's highest dams with a height of 124 meters. The Nagarjuna Sagar project was commissioned in 1978. From the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir, a total of 815 Megawatt units electricity is generated.
Nathpa Jhakri hydropower project, located in Himachal Pradesh contributes 1530 megawatt unit electricity to the country's electricity-grid. The Nathpa Jhakri, which is a combined project of the central government and the Himachal Pradesh state government, started functioning in full swing in 2004. The project is built across the Sutlej River. Six units, each of 250 M.W capacities are constructed as part of this project. The Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation Limited (NJPC) which was the responsible for the supervision and management of the project has been renamed as the Sutlej Jal Vaidyut Nigam (SJVN) and converted into a national corporation. Currently 10 projects of national importance are being constructed under the supervision of this corporation.
Sardar Sarovar project is built across the Narmada River and its tributaries. A total of 3165 dams including 30 large, 135 moderate and 3000 small dams are part of this project and aims to cater to a wide range of electricity needs. The benefits of this project are mostly shared among the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. This project was initiated in 1979.
The Sardar Sarovar dam, which is presently under construction, is the largest dam of the lot. The two powerhouses located here have an electricity generation capacity of 1450 M.W.
The Bargi dam is located at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. This dam was built in connection with the Narmada project. The Bargi project generates an average of 150 M.W electricity units.
The Bansagar project is built across the Son River, which is a tributary of the Ganga River. The project is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Bansagar hydropower station started functioning in September, 2006 and produces 425 Megawatt units electricity.
This project is located at Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh and is built across the river Krishna. This project generates a total of 1670 Megawatt units electricity from the two powerhouses situated at either banks of the Krishna River.
The Koyna dam is built across the Koyna River in Maharashtra. The construction was completed in 1963. The state's 20% of electricity needs is met by the project and 1920 Megawatt unit electricity is the project's electricity-generation capacity.
The Salal hydropower project was commissioned in 1987. This project is built across the Chenab river of Jammu. The electricity-generation capacity of the Salal project ranges to 690 Megawatt units. The project is under the control of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).
Dehar hydropower project is built across the Beas River. 990Megawatts electricity is the average power-generation capacity of the Dehar project. The project is located at Himachal Pradesh and is under the control of Bhakra Beas Management Board.
The Idukki Hydropower project is the largest hydropower project of Kerala. The project which began construction in 1969 started functioning in 1976. 780 Megawatt units electricity is generated through this project. The 555-feet high Periyar concrete double curvature arch dam is the first of its kind in India.
The Chamera project is built across the Ravi River in Himachal Pradesh, near the town of Dalhousie. This project is under the control of NHPC and produces 840 Megawatts unit electricity.
The Indirasagar hydropower project was built across the Narmada River and has an electricity generation capacity of 1000 Megawatts. The project is jointly supervised by the Madhya Pradesh state government and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, or NHPC. 5 units of 125 Megawatts capacity each are built as a part of this project.
Built across the Ganga River, Tehri project is located at the Tehri town of Uttarakhand. This project is ranked first in the country's hydropower projects rankings. The Tehri dam is 261 meters high and has an electricity generation capacity of 2400 megawatts. Machinery imported from Russia is used to generate electricity from the Tehri project. The Tehri project which is ranked first in electricity generation stands top in controversies too. More than 1lakh people were evacuated for construction of the Tehri project. Further, this region is highly vulnerable and prone to earthquakes. But as per the reassurance of the authorities, the dam can withstand quakes up to 7.2 magnitude, measured on the Richter scale.
National Hydroelectric Power Corporation or NHPC
National Hydroelectric Power Corporation or NHPC is the country's largest electricity-generation company. This public sector enterprise, which is under the supervision of the central government, was started in 1975. The NHPC plans various hydropower projects and undertakes their construction. The centre of this enterprise is at Faridabad. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation's maiden projects were the Salal project of Jammu and Kashmir, and Loktak project of Manipur. Until now, the NHPC has undertaken 13 projects all over the country which produces combined 5175 Megawatt unit electricity. Apart from this, NHPC has undertaken and completed one Hydropower project each in Nepal and Bhutan. Presently, 11 hydropower projects, which are estimated to produce nearly 4622 megawatt unit electricity, are being constructed in various Indian states by NHPC.
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