Receding water in Umiam affects power generation

SHILLONG: The picturesque Umiam reservoir, located on the outskirts of Shillong, is one of the important hydro-electric power projects in Meghalaya but over the years, the water level in the reservoir has receded rapidly affecting power generation.
Currently, the water level at Umiam reservoir stands at 3186.70 feet and it gets filled at 3220 feet after which MeECL releases water.
Usually, during every rain season, the reservoir gets filled in July-August but it also starts getting dry at a fast pace and water level recedes by December-January.
When contacted, an official from the MeECL said that a minimal amount of water from the reservoir is also supplied to the defence area in Umroi, adding this arrangement was done during the period of Assam government and MeECL continues to supply water to the defence area though they have their own water source.
The official also added that earlier, the demand for power in Meghalaya was very less when the state produced just 70-80 MW but now with huge demand, the government has to monitor the situation when they run the generator.
“If we run the plant for 6-7 hours for full generation, the water level would definitely decrease and hence we monitor the situation,” the official said, adding that the MeECL runs the plant to the minimal to ensure that they can run it even during the lean period when there is no rain.
The demand for power in Meghalaya is 600 plus MW whereas there is a deficiency of 300 MW as the power production from Umiam and Leshka projects is only 300 MW. In 2018, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had signed an agreement with the Centre to provide Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of 5,497 million Japanese yen (approximately Rs 315 crore) for the ‘Project for Renovation and Modernisation of Umiam-Umtru Stage III Hydroelectric Power Station” in Meghalaya.
The objective of the project is to reduce power shortage in Meghalaya by renovating, modernising, and upgrading the Umiam-Umtru Stage III Hydroelectric Power Station, situated by the Umtru river.
The installed capacity of Umiam-Umtru Stage III Hydroelectric Power Station is 60 MW, consisting of two units of 30 MW each. Overall, the Umiam-Umtru Hydroelectric Power Station represents a significant 17% of the total installed capacity of Meghalaya Power Generation Corporation Limited.
The station has been operating since 1979 and requires up-gradation owing to wear and tear of equipment.

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