With water-level in the hydel power generating reservoirs in Karnataka at less than 50 per cent of the capacity, “god alone can save the State” from facing a power crisis, Energy Minister D.K. Shivakumar has said.
Replying to a question by Congress member Veeranna Mattikatti in the Legislative Council on Tuesday, the Minister said that inflow into three hydel power-generation reservoirs of Linganamakki, Supa and Mani was about 40 per cent. Only good monsoon could improve the situation, he said, and added that 150 taluks may have to be declared as drought hit this year.
Non-availability of transmission lines was making only 600 MW of power available to the State, though power purchase agreements were for 2,000 MW, the Minister said. Buying power from other States was proving too expensive, he added. Mr. Shivakumar said the government was spending Rs. 7,900 crore on providing power to farmers and there was a need to “make the farmers realise the value of water and power.” He, however, clarified that there was no proposal to discontinue power subsidy to farmers.
When the Minister said he had come across instances of farmers digging a series of borewells and installing pump-sets, BJP member Ramachandra Gowda intervened to say that it was because the yield from borewells was poor. He said that “banking on god” to save the State was not good enough, and there was a need for more “human effort.”
Leader of the Opposition in the council K. Eshwarappa, who was Energy Minister in the previous BJP government, said Karnataka should seek to get more allocation of coal blocks from the Centre. The Minister said he had held discussions with the Centre on this.
When Mr. Shivakumar spoke of the proposal to set up a thermal power plant in Niddodi in Moodbidri taluk, representatives from Dakshina Kannada, including Minister K. Abhayachandra Jain, said that there was a strong opposition from local people to the project.
‘Not enough linemen’
To a query by B. Ramakrishna of the Janata Dal (S), Mr. Shivakumar admitted that there was a shortage of linemen in the State, with 7,294 posts, of the 9,814 sanctioned, remaining vacant.
The Minister said 2,000 posts would be filled on priority. Congress member Motamma said at least half the vacant posts should be filled.