Maharashtra’s power ambitions take a blow

Maharashtra's hopes of turning into a power-surplus state in 2013-14 have taken a knock with water scarcity forcing a shutdown of the 1,130-MW Parli power project and poor gas supply hitting the Dabhol and Uran power projects. The statewide shortfall now is 4,000 MW.

Data on the Maharashtra Generation Company (Mahagenco) website show that the gap between power generation and demand is rising by the day. As on Thursday, generation was 8,551 MW and demand 12,805 MW. Two weeks earlier, on February 7, the shortfall was only 588 MW. The state has decided to supply power even to high-loss areas during the ongoing board exams, and this has contributed to the daily shortfall, Mahagenco officials say.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said all six units of the Parli plant have had to be shut down due to the water shortage. The plant, in Beed, receives water from the Khadka barrage, which now has practically none. The Maharashtra State Electricity Board's thermal plant at Chandrapur, whose capacity is 2,340 MW, generates 1,800 MW now.

Poor rains during the last two years and the ongoing drought have resulted in the Maharashtra government prioritising drinking, agriculture and industry, in that order, for water supply. Beed, Osmanabad, Ahmednagar and Jalna districts in the Marathwada region are among the worst affected.

Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd, better known as the Dabhol power plant, has been forced into intermittent shutdowns by low gas supply levels, which have now reached 0.25 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metres per day). It was 1.3 mmscmd in January, allowing the plant to produce between 270 and 300MW, then dropped to 1.1 mmscmd and finally to 0.4 mmscmd this month.

"The low gas supply requires us to shut down for around 10 days and then run for two or three days by managing underdrawal and overdrawal," said an RGPPL executive. The 1,967-MW plant is producing only 300 MW.

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