CAG raps KSEB for not implementing recommendations on upkeep of Idukki project

A rainbow forms near the Idukki arch dam reservoir. Photo: Reju Arnold

Thiruvananthapuram: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India have pulled up the Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) for not implementing the recommendations of the committees constituted by it to avoid accidents at the Idukki Hydro Electric Project (IHEP), the largest hydroelectric project in Kerala.

The CAG made the observations in its report on Public Sector Undertakings for the year ended March 2019, Government of Kerala. The report was laid on the table of the Assembly on Thursday. In its report, the CAG noted that Idukki HEP is an underground power station and constitutes 37.88 per cent of the total hydel capacity of KSEB.

"Therefore, timely and efficient upkeep of systems and equipment of the generating units to avoid accidents is of utmost importance. Audit, however, noticed that a series of accidents occurred in Idukki HEP which led to the long duration of outages and consequent non-generation of electricity," the report said.

The CAG, which examined the accidents that occurred in Idukki HEP between 2011 and 2020, said after every accident, KSEB appointed committees to investigate the reasons for the accidents and to suggest remedial measures. "KSEB, however, did not implement the recommendations of these committees...," it said.

It was noticed that the subsequent accidents that occurred in January 2020 and February 2020 were due to the failure of equipment such as surge arresters/capacitor and problems in the bus duct, the report said, blaming the non-implementation of a committee recommendation for it.

In the wake of the fault of the circuit breaker of Unit 6 in 2010, it was proposed to install new circuit breakers for Units 4 and 5 also.

"The circuit breakers were, however, replaced only after the explosion of the circuit breakers of Unit 5 in November 2013," the report said. Noting that the Vigilance Wing of KSEB, after the accident in November 2013, had recommended increasing the frequency of Power Equipment Testing (PETs) from an annual to quarterly basis, the report said this was, however, not complied with.

"Though one PET was conducted in August 2014, it was incomplete as the closing time of the circuit breaker was not recorded. It is pertinent to mention that the accident which occurred on 28 April 2015 was due to failure of the circuit breaker," it said.

"The repeated accidents due to failure of similar equipment also indicated that the committees which investigated accidents did not examine whether the recommendations given by the previous committees were complied with or not," the report said.

It said the accidents led to prolonged outages and non-generation of power from Idukki HEP.

During the period covered in the audit, there were outages of 362.97 hours which led to non-generation of power and procurement of 16.95 MU of power from other sources incurring an extra expenditure of Rs 4.97 crore, the report added.

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