Friday, October 24, 2008

trees and the maheshwar dam

Maheshwar Dam

Copyright © 2011 Ramaswami Ashok Kumar


hydropower and the impact of regenerating forests
the times of india(toi) of january 8th,2000 had a
newsreport "NBA accused of trying to scuttle Maheshwar
hydro-power project";also on jan 10th 2000 toi carried the
news "world's largest hydel plant will be built in
arunachal pradesh" as well as "Gujarat village taps
rainwater,says it's the wave of the future". The
following observations and comments should be
considered and the most useful steps taken as a
consequence without delay:
1. Maheshwar Dam submerges some of the most fertile
lands of India-the Nimad plains. The 24 metre high dam
behind which 48.64 sq.km of the Nimad plains would
god forbid be sumberged is used to store the water for
supplying peaking power.Such a scheme is not a run of
river scheme by international norms. One must not
destroy fertile lands which remain a permanent boon -a
marvel of ecological balance-which has evolved into
this state over millions of years,even for a good
reason. The Maheshwar dam is a temporary contraption
uprooting an ecocommunity of people,permanent
pastures,trees and agriculture and of course thousands
of species of plants and animals.This contraption
would produce electricity for a few hours everyday at
most and that too for a few generations at most.
Thereafter people will again come and destroy other
communities of health,beauty and permanence of
wholesomeness and build another temporary nonsense.
Thus specks of dams in the evolutionary time scales
have been replacing successful ecological creations
and making extinct communities in which wisdom of
success exists. Such dams have taken a scrap of time
to build and in a scrap of time they are getting
silted up. The large and medium dams of india are
silting up at the rate of a sardar sarovar every two
and a half years. This way 22 sardar sarovars
equivalent live storage(SSLS) has silted up already
out of a total of 47.5 SSLS created since
independence. The remaining
will be silted up in another sixty years like the
tungabhadra which has already silted up by 25% and may
not last another 50 years.
2. The submergence area of the Maheshwar Dam is 48.64
sq.km at full supply level. Assume that 1.5 kg per
sq.m is the dry biomass density of the submerged
area.From fundamental physiological properties of
plants,the plants transpire their own dry biomass
weight of water at least,daily. This means a power
flow through the plants of 100 megawatts(MW) per
sq.km. Hence the Maheshwar dam under its watery grave
submerges at least 4864 MW of living communities'
power and gives at most 450 MW at some 9 to 10 MW per
sq.km. What justice is this:450 MW for 4864 MW at 100
MW per sq.km permanent productivity destroyed for
artificial electricity for a speck of time at only 10
MW per sq.km?The use of this electricity will be at
most at 10 per cent efficiency or at 1 MW per sq.km.
This is hundred times more land use than what nature
uses to produce what is wanted for as long as the sun
lasts. That further means we squander tax payers'
money to build an electrical capacity of 450 MW only
to see that only 45 MW of it is actually delivered as
final goods and services and 405 MW of capacity is
locked up in waste!That means Rs 2000 Cr of capital
wasted. For using 45 MW the real cost is Rs 45 Cr per
megawatt of electrical capacity. What a creation of
poverty! For this the farmers and tribes have to
sacrifice lands which are their homeland for
countless millennia? They know of no other way of life
other than this which has become sacred wisdom in
their psyche. This can never, never be justified.
3. Save all this community,save all the precious Nimad
plains and the adjacent forests. Yet have your peaking
power of 450 MW. By giving employment for 15 million
people of this and surrounding communities. At 30
watts a human being,he enjoys his muscle power to
produce electricity in pedal powered devices.Of course
he gets the energy from food produced forever from the
land the Maheshwar dam threatens to submerge and
destroy irreversibly. Thus people are not displaced
but produce power at 1000 MW per sq km peak. Because
his peak power is 150 watts and occupies 0.15 sq.m to
pedal the power into the generator attached to a shaft
like the bicycle and the dynamo. He is a constant
temperature engine. He works at 1.2 volts and hundreds
of amperes of current. He is shockless. And on the
Nimad plains he is a part of the sewerless system and
he fertilises the fields. And he participates in
producing electricity for the community in which he
lives. And this electricity can be switched off in
five minutes. And whole villages can be lighted up
like this. Note that this lifestyle does meet our
peaking electricity needs for all time to come while
keeping the fields fertile and the homes of the
people and the niches, the habitats of thousands of
diverse creations will continue to be. And evolution
of the drama of diversity and life will
continue.Unperturbed by the deep set ignorance which
would otherwise in action attract krishna's sudarshan
chakra to be wielded.
r. ashok kumar,BE,ME(Power
Engineering)(IISc),Negentropist,Bombay Sarvodaya
Mandal,299,Tardeo Road,Nana Chowk,Mumbai-400007.
Telephone 022-23872061,022-27896209.

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