a quantity equivalent to 3750 million tonnes of coal at 20% efficiency. The world hydel installed
capacity (as per 1963 estimate is only 65 million kW or 4.3% of the mean f l o w .
India has colossal waterpower resources. India’s total mean annual river flows are about
1675 thousand million cubic meters of which the usable resources are 555 thousand
million cubic meters. Out of total river flows, 60% contribution comes from Himalayan Rivers
(Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra). 16% from central Indian rivers (Narmada, Tapti and
Mahanadi) and the remaining from the rivers draining the Deccan plateau (Godavari, Krishna
and Cauvery). India’s power potential from hydel source as per the recent estimate is
41500 mW while its present hydel capacity is only 32000 mW. Still India has got enough
hydel potential to develop to meet the increasing power needs of the nation. The abundant
availability of water resources, its fairly even distribution and overall economy in
developing this source of energy enhanced its development in India, The other factors
responsible in its rapid development are indigenous technological skill, material and cheap
labor. In the IX five-year plan; the Government considering the importance of this source
has included a number of hydro-projects. The major difficulty in the development of
hydroelectric projects is the relatively longer time required for its hydrological, topographical and
geological investigations. Lack of suitable. Site is an added problem for taking up hydroprojects.
Hydropower was once the dominant source of electrical energy in the world and still is in
Canada, Norway and Switzerland. But its use has decreased in other countries since
1950s, as relatively less expensive fuel was easily available. In USA, only 10% of the
total power production is water-generated. In the light of fuel scarcity and its up surging
prices, the role of hydropower is again re-examined and more emphasis is being laid on
waterpower development. As per Mr. Hays (Manager of Hydro Projects in USA), “It was
less costly per mW to build a single 1000 mW thermal plant than 20 small hydro plants.
But, with the increased fuel cost and high cost of meeting environmental criteria for new
thermal plants, interest in hydro is being revived”. Small hydro-projects ranging from 10
to 1500 kW are becoming more feasible as standardization of major equipment reduces
costs. India is yet to start in the field of micro-hydro projects, which is one major way for
solving the present power problem.
Hydro-projects generate power at low cost, it is non conventional, easy to manage,
pollution free and makes no crippling demands on the transportation system. But the
major drawback is, it operates at the mercy of nature. Poor rainfall has on a number of
occasions shown the dangers of over dependence on hydropower. Let rivers flow and let
rains shower the earth with prosperity is the ancient prayer chanted by Riches and
continued to be chanted even now.
The development of hydropower systems as a backup for thermal systems has significant
The flexible operation of hydraulic turbines makes them suitable for. Peak load
operation. Therefore, the development of hydropower is not only economical
but it also solves the major problem of peak load.