First unit of Myntdu Leshka hydro project in Meghalaya commissioned

Shillong: Energy-starved Meghalaya today added 42 MW of electricity, after the first unit of the 126 MW Myntdu-Leskha hydel project was commissioned by Chief Minister, Mukul Sangma in Jaintia Hills today.

The project cost has escalated from Rs 360 crore, when the foundation stone was laid in 2002, to Rs. 1,173 crore due to repeated delays.

Meghalaya from being a power surplus state is now a power deficit state and has a peak hour demand of 650 MW of electricity. The state has been able to generate only 186.7 MW before today.

The foundation stone of MW Myntdu-Leskha was laid by former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Initially, a five year deadline for the project’s completion was set. State-owned Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd., (MeECL) took responsibility for construction of the project, but failed to meet with the initial set deadline. It further missed a revised deadline in 2009.

Commissioning the first unit of the project, Sangma said, Meghalaya needs to invest more in the power sector to do away with power crisis in the state. He expressed his unhappiness in the delay to commission the project saying: MeECL officials must acknowledge about their inefficiency in implementing the project in time. He urged the officials to work on their efficiency in future projects.

The 63 meter height dam has been constructed across the Myntdu River just below the tri-junction of its two other tributaries, the Lamu and the Umshariang. The dam’s location is in the southern slopes of Meghalaya and somewhat close to Cheerapunjee receiving one of the highest annual rainfalls in the World.

The dam also falls under a high seismic zone, however, engineers have certified that it can withstand earthquake measuring over 9 on the Richter scale.
Another concern for the project is that unscientific coal mining upstream of the project has reduced the Ph value of the water in Myntdu, making it acidic.

There is a danger that the acidic water would corrode the costly machineries of the project like it did to another hydel project ‘Kopili’ situated not far away in the area.

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