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Maharashtra’s first hydro-electric project turns 100

The state’s first large hydro-electric plant at Khopoli has entered its centenary year. The hydro power plant was commissioned in February 1915, providing electricity to selected buildings in Mumbai then. The old building now has a museum displaying machines used then to generate electricity.

“It was the vision of our founder J.N. Tata who believed in clean, cheap and abundant power as one of the basic ingredients for the economic progress of a city. We started the plant then with a capacity of 40 mw and went on increasing it to 72 mw,” Mahesh Paranjpe, chief of hydro and renewable operations at Khopoli said. The hydropower is more useful when the city’s demand is at peak and needs quick power generation.

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Khopoli hydro station is the prime source of power for industrial units in Khopoli, Khalapur, MIDC, Rasayani and Patalganga in the last several decades. Later, the company commissioned hydro plants at Bhivpuri in 1922 near Karjat and Bhira in 1921 at Mulshi near Pune. Though the Tata Power has no immediate plans to increase the generation capacity at Khopoli, the official said it depends on factors such as water availability, demand, among others.

The beginning was difficult. The place had none of the facilities we see today. The machinery was brought in from Germany. What followed was an engineering feat of boring a mile-long tunnel through the mountain, turning the eastward flow of two rivers westward and creating a five-mile artificial river,” the official said.

Tata Power company has also taken care of the people affected by the plant, he said. “We have been conducting lot of social initiatives at all sites by holding health camps, adopting schools, distributing text books, building roads, among others. Here in Khopoli, we also run a call centre for Tata products,” he added.


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