The Minister of State for Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Shri M. Kannappan, dedicated , the Kalpong Hydro-Electric Power Project to the nation, the first ever in an island territory. The all-important power station, besides meeting the electricity needs, is destined to change the living standards of the people of North Andaman. Apart from cheap and dependable energy, the project is designed to protect the sanctity of these serene and picturesque islands by generating environment-friendly, clean and pollution- free power.
The Kalpong Hydro-electric Project, executed by the National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation Ltd. (NHPC) on behalf of Andaman and Nicobar Administration has been commissioned 15 months ahead of schedule. The project will generate 14.83 million units of energy annually.This project will provide 5.25 MW of additional capacity in the power system of North and Middle Andaman region. It will also partly operate as a base load station when the demand for power is at its peak.
The project has a 34- metre high concrete dam on the left fork of the river Kalpong, a 25-metre high rock-fill dam on the right fork, 257-metre-long in-take approach channel, and a 133-metre long in-take tunnel.The Kalpong river traverses in the northward direction for a length of about 35 kilometres before it joins the Aerial Bay Creek on the east coast near Diglipur. The project envisages harnessing of the available water resources of the Kalpong river in its upper reaches for power generation.
With the rapid rise in global energy requirements, efforts to find suitable alternatives to petroleum-based resources have gained momentum. The energy crisis assumes grimmer proportions particularly in areas which have no immediate access to conventional sources of energy. This fact finds its application in totality in the islands of Andaman and Nicobar. These remote islands which are at a distance of 1200 kilometres from the nearest land mass of the Indian mainland have traditionally depended for their power requirements on diesel shipped in from outside to feed the Union Territory’s 34-odd-power stations that run on diesel generators. The capital, Port Blair, and its suburbs in South Andaman also depend on diesel generators for their electricity needs which run at a very high production cost of rupees nine per unit. On the other hand, the production cost of electricity from the Kalpong project is merely Rs. 1.89 per unit. Meanwhile, a local undertaking is all set to generate 20 MW of power from its diesel-based power generation plant to supplement Port Blair’s total power consumption. That these diesel-run generators pollute the environment is a fact and a necessary evil. The solution to this problem perhaps lies in the optimum use of non-conventional energy sources such as solar, wind, tidal and bio-mass.
A positive beginning towards self-dependence, in power sector has been achieved in Andaman & Nicobar with the commissioning of the Kalpong Hydroelectric Project, a unique engineering feat that has harnessed hydro energy in difficult geographical conditions.
The Kalpong Project marks a major shift in the source of power generation at least in North and Middle Andaman from costly and polluting diesel generators which have also made the cost of per unit power generation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands among the highest anywhere in the country. The project will provide power at a cost many times cheaper in comparison to the present rates. Kalpong will provide light and delight to a large number of houses besides irrigation facilities in areas it is meant to serve.