Towards adequate power availability for Nagaland

Like many other states in India, Nagaland continues to suffer from inadequate availability of power particularly during dry seasons. News media and members of the public have, of late, strongly highlighted this very important and pressing concern. In considering ways for finding an answer to the problem, however, one needs some basic facts which are briefly discussed below.

1)    States are to be interdependent for their power requirement to ensure adequate, stable, cheap and equitable availability of power. Towards this objective, regional grids have now been well established in the whole country. Establishment of a National Power Grid, on the pattern of the National Highways, has already made good progress. Generation from all major power projects are accordingly linked to the grid from which equitable distribution to the states are to be ensured. Power share of each state is decided on the pattern of Central Plan assistance given to the states and on the basis of the consumption of power by the states. With this policy, Nagaland is at present having the benefit of cheaper power rather than the high cost of power from the Doyang Hydro Electric Project located within the state. More power generations are, however, required to be added in the region to meet the need for adequate power availability. 

Construction of Hydro Electric projects with a capacity of over 10,000 MW are under progress in the North Eastern region, and with  progressive completion of these and more projects, the region will have not only adequate but surplus power which can be evacuated into the National Grid. Hydro generation is renewable and cheap. It is high time that Nagaland should also make a larger contribution towards such huge generation of hydro power, for the benefit of the region in general and the state in particular, by harnessing the state’s hydro potential. One such potential, namely the Tizu- Zungki hydro electric project with a capacity of 150 MW which was conceived and initiated for action as early as in 1980s, still remains cold shouldered. Under directives from the central government a Public Sector Undertaking agreed to take up the project in 2006, but for whatever the reason, the state government seems still  undecided, notwithstanding the multifarious benefits that will be derived from the project. To help expedite power availability, besides other benefits, it is imperative that this project, which being the most viable hydro power project in the state, should be taken up with great urgency either through PSU or on PPP mode. 

2)    The need of  setting up of a Thermal Power Plant (TPP) in the state has been propounded rightly by some concerned sources on the plea that the hydro power runs short during dry seasons. Thermal stations generally operate as base stations and hydro projects as peaking stations particularly during dry seasons, and therefore, the need exists for TPP specially until hydro power projects have not been sufficiently developed. It may however be kept in mind that a particular state is not independent for its power resources or power dependence, as stated earlier. The need, the capacity and the economic viability of a TPP for the region has to be decided on considerations of the overall power situation in the system and not on an isolated consideration of one particular state. Desirability or the need of a TPP immediately in the state, therefore is to be decided after taking various factors in the comprehensive power planning for the region. In this connection, it may be mentioned that a hurried decision recently, inspite of advice against it, to take up 23 MW Thermal Power Plant in Dimapur, and its failure to complete, should help draw lessons and experience for future development programmes. It may further be stated that the need for TPP may disappear in the not too  distant a future when surplus power generation from other sources will be available. In countries like Canada, thermal power projects are being done away with, with the availability of sufficient alternative  power and in order to help reduce carbon emission. The North Eastern India will soon catch up with such a happy situation, with the completion of many ongoing mega hydro projects in the region.

3)    Colossal power loss to the extent of 55 to 60 per cent in the state is equivalent to the total generation of 30 to 40 MW power station. Major proportion of this loss is attributed to theft. It is a matter of grave concern and it needs to be tackled on war footing. Total inevitable technical and other related loss should be nearer to 15 per cent, which Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has been able to achieve. Besides tackling the power theft problems, action should also be taken simultaneously to strengthen and  augment, the transmission and distribution systems which will not only enhance the efficiency of the power supply but will also  reduce the system losses dramatically. 

There is so much that can be done and expeditiously accomplished with correct and sound planning for solving the present chronic power problems in the state. It calls for immediate appropriate planning with due foresight and urgent actions. It is time to set the problems straight to ensure that the basic need of the people is met. It is time to get on the track without any further delay, delays caused by political and other impediments. 

I. Lanu Toy