Per a government official’s admission, 2,000 units of power could have been generated using the water that was released from the reservoir for Karnataka Governor Thawarchand Gehlot’s visit to Jog Falls.

Karnataka dam water meant for hydroelectricity diverted to Jog Falls for Guvs visit
news Governance Friday, November 26, 2021 - 20:31

In what seems like a questionable misuse of common resources for VIP treatment, state-owned Karnataka Power Corporation Limited diverted water from the Linganamakki reservoir to Jog Falls in Karnataka’s Shivamogga district for Governor Thawarchand Gehlot’s visit on Thursday, November 25. The water was released to show Jog Falls roaring in its full glory to the Governor. Venkatesh Hegde, Executive Engineer, Gates Division, confirmed to TNM that 500 cusecs of water were allowed to flow into the Jog Falls for four hours. However, the Governor left within a few minutes after visiting the spot. 

The Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) manages the Linganamakki reservoir, which stores water and uses it for power generation. The 500 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water that was allowed to flow from the dam for four hours on Thursday, would have otherwise yielded 2,000 units of power. On average, the Linganamakki Hydroelectric Power Plant uses 7,000 cusecs of water. According to estimates made in 2017, on average, a household consumes two units of electricity daily in Karnataka. 

Jog Falls is a tourist attraction during the peak monsoon season when a vast amount of water gushes down the picturesque green terrain. Recently, despite the opposition from environmentalists, the Karnataka government proposed making the Jog Falls a perennial tourist attraction by releasing 200 cusecs of water daily. The environmentalists, however, have warned that construction activity for the same might destabilise the entire region and trigger landslides in the fragile ecosystem.

Criticising the development, power sector policy analyst Shankar Sharma questioned the decision taken by the KPCL. “Why should water, which is so precious to generate electricity, be allowed to be wasted for the visit of a dignitary? Who is responsible for this?” he said. Not only was the water wasted from the Linganamakki dam, but also for the Gerusoppa power plant, which is constructed within 50 km downstream of the dam, he said.  

“In reality, the energy wasted because of this diversion of water is much more because of this untimely release of water. If this energy is not important, then why is the government keen on building another hydel power project at Mekedatu on River Cauvery. If the state government was so keen on showcasing the Jog Falls, why could he not be brought during the rainy season when there is enough water in the falls anyway,” he asked. He further questioned if the state government would go on to please other dignitaries in a similar manner. 

Karnataka Energy Minister V Sunil Kumar could not be reached for comment.

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