Four missing after Assam hydel power project mishap

Water fountatain created after the pipeline in Kopili hydel power project in Assam's Dima Hasao district raptured on Monday morning. DH photo.

Four workers of North East Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), including a junior engineer, are missing since Monday morning when a pipeline carrying water from the reservoir to power station at Kopili hydel power project in South Assam's Dima Hasao district raptured.

Although the cause of the mishap is yet to be ascertained, officials said water fountain of more than 100 feet was formed submerging the power station in minutes. "At least 10 staffs got stuck in the powerhouse situated below but six managed to come out of the water. Efforts are on to trace four others, who are still missing," said an official.

This incident triggered panic among residents living on the hilly villages situated close to the power project.

Officials called National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel to carry out the search but the same could not be launched as the water was still rising. 

NEEPCO, the public sector power company opened all the gates of the reservoir to release excess water and reduce the pressure. The pipeline carries nearly 12,000 litres of water per second. 

Located on the Kopili river in the hilly Dima Hasao district sharing border with Meghalaya, the Kopili Hydro Electric Project has installed capacity to generate 275 MW electricity. 

Coal mining blamed: 

NEEPCO officials blamed haphazard coal mining on the hills of neighbouring Meghalaya as one of the possible reasons resulting in the rapture in the pipeline. They said water of the Kopili river turned acidic due to coal mining and the acidic water could have damaged the pipeline. 

Meanwhile, the warning was issued in the nearby areas as the water level in the Kopili river was rising due to the release of water from the reservoir.

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