BARAMULLA: A major power power project of Jammu and Kashmir, the state-owned Lower Jehlum Hydro Electric Power Project (LJHP), is in the last stages of its existence, but the higher officials of the Power Development Department and the government are in deep slumber.
Sources said that the project’s main machinery, including nine giant transformers of different capacities, pumps, motors, wires, valves, pipes, washers, pressure pumps, cooling system, heating elements, walls and other machinery, along with the project’s building and its canal are on their death bed and the overall project is likely to go defunct at any time.
However the higher officials and other government functionaries are silent and have taken no steps for the project’s repair.
Instead, said the sources, the project that generates 105 megawatt power is working still only on God’s mercy.
The nine giant transformers of different capacities installed to maintain the electricity supply to the project machinery, completely crossed guarantee age and can cease working any time. “Its overall guarantee was 35 years, but these transformers were not changed in the past 40 years and have all been repaired dozens of times,” said an official who did not wish to be named.
The official sources said that the project was build in 1977 in Bimyar village of Tehsil Boniyar in border town Uri in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Most of its machinery was also installed in the same year and has long crossed its age, with the department only changing those parts which were completely damaged.
An official said that, it was written in the project agreement that twenty percent of its revenue would be spent for its repair, but this remained only on paper, with nothing ever spent on repairs and maintenance. He said some of the project’s building’s walls went black last year when one of its transformer and main store was gutted. “From that time, we wrote to the department several times to release us funds for its colouring, even as we have no money to buy fresh chairs, tables or any other goods. But no one paid attention,” he said.
“Last week, a main valve and a pipe line leaked, due to which machinery worth lakhs of rupees were damaged while thousands of litres of turbine oil washed away. The project was non-functional for over 20 hours, and the government lost a lot of money. This happens only because of the non-attention of officials in the government,” another official said.
A project employee said that the LJHP’s nine kilometre-long canal from Gantamulla to Bimyar is leaking water at hundreds of spots into the river Jhelum while at some places there is only a 10 to 20-foot difference between the river and the project canal. This has happened, he said, because increased water level in the Jehlum washed away thousands tons of mud from the canal over the past several decades. As usual, the government machinery is silent and has taken no steps to build a strong wall at the river banks at the canal side.
The sources also said that the main gates which divert river water towards the canal were outdated and a bridge along the gates was also declared unsafe around 20 years ago, but neither the bridge nor its gates were ever replaced in all their 40 years.
The road along the canal is in dilapidated condition, and the canal is completely without fencing. Some of the small escapes on the canal have also been defunct for decades, but have never yet been repaired or replaced.
Should the project turn defunct, as the sources fear it will at any time, the state will face huge power crises and will lost thousands of crores of rupees.
The local population from Gantamulla to Bimyar have appealed to the authorities to pay attention towards the project and save this lone asset of the state.