5 August :The Bhakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB) which manages the 2860 Mw power generation and transmission network in the Sutlej-Beas-Ravi Basins is in urgent need of a new mandate, said Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Commerce and Power after meeting with senior BBMB officials in Chandigarh and visiting the historic Bhakra Dam recently.
Another 150 Mw can be added in the Sutlej-Beas-Ravi Basin itself and these projects will be taken up soon, said Shri Jairam Ramesh but he also emphasised that the mandate of the BBMB has to be expanded to give it a role in developing hydel projects in other states and in neighbouring countries as well (like what the public sector Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited has achieved in Nepal). One option would be to float a separate company owned by the four member states of BMMB—Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan and have the BBMB manage it with its own cadre, the Minister of State for Commerce and Power indicated. Discussions will soon be initiated with the four states to take this idea forward and establish the company under the Companies Act. This would offer many advantages to the four states which stand to benefit if new projects are executed by the BBMB as compared to private IPPS. Quite apart from financial gains to the states, if the mandate is not expanded quickly, BBMB as an organisation will stagnate and will not be offer challenges to its employees (numbering more than 12,000 at present), Shri Jairam Ramesh pointed out.
Shri Jairam Ramesh also pointed out that the loss of storage capacity in the Bhakra Dam complex was highly exaggerated, saying that over the past 45 years, only about 16% of storage capacity has been lost on account of sedimentation. Technical studies have revealed that the actual loss of capacity is not significantly different from the design assumptions made originally. He said that the Bhakra project—a pet project of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru—has transformed the entire country and is a remarkable testimonial to the vision of Panditji. He recalled that every foreign visitor to India in the 1950s including Zhou Enlai had visited Bhakra-Nangal. Panditji himself visited Bhakra-Nangal thirteen times in ten years between 1953 and 1963. Indian politics is in desperate need of such extraordinary commitment and leadership by inspiration and motivation, he emphasised.
Shri Jairam Ramesh complimented the BBMB for the great expertise it has developed in the hydel sector and for being the first utility to develop a CDM (clean development mechanism) project for earning carbon credits from the renovation, modernisation and uprating of the Bhakra Left Bank Power House. This could earn almost $ 3 million for the BBMB and is an example for other utilities in the country to follow.