Mekedatu project to submerge Shimsha power station

Mekedatu project to submerge Shimsha power station

Shimsha Generating station. (DH Photo)

Tucked away in a picturseque valley, this quaint little hydel power station has been continuously supplying electricity to Bengaluru and other parts of the state for the last 80 years.

The Shimshapura Generating Station, set up by philosopher-king of the erstwhile princely Mysore state, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV in 1939, is famed for not only being Karnataka’s second power station; it also prides itself for being fully functional to this day.

Today, however, it faces the threat of sinking into oblivion — literally.

The station will be among the many casualties of the controversial Mekedatu balancing reservoir and drinking water project, which the Karnataka government is determined to implement.

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar on Friday told DH that though there would be collateral damage, the drinking water project was the only respite for the burgeoning Bengaluru city.

Shivakumar, who made a spot visit to the start and end points of the proposed Mekedatu project, said that more than 4,900 hectares of land (forest, revenue, private) will be submerged, and the Shimshapura Station would among them.

“There is no way of protecting or saving this power station. It is bound to get submerged once the Mekedatu project is implemented. But Shimsha is a small power plant, while the Mekedatu project is massive. Also, the Shimsha station’s capacity is very small. We need to sacrifice something to gain something. Fortunately, the Shivanasamudra hydel power station will not be affected by the Mekedatu project,” he said.

Power house trolley. (DH Photo/B H Shivakumar)

Shivakumar, however, said that the government was exploring the possibilities of shifting the station upstream.

“I have asked the Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) to explore if the station can be shifted to a higher elevation, where power generation can continue. There are technologies available today where power can be generated at 15 or 25 feet height. I have seen this in Germany and Switzerland. We are thinking of adopting the same technology here,” he added.

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One of the unique features of the Shimsha station is its power house trolley, which has been operational since 1942.

The power station can only be accessed by the trolley, which takes eight minutes to ascend and descend the steep slope. Shivakumar said that the trolley track too would be shifted. The station was built at a cost of Rs 19.2 lakh. The then government had spent an additional Rs 39.25 lakh on the hydroelectric works.

The station, which produces water from Cauvery river water, sells the power generated at 99.7 paise per unit.

4.9k ha to be submerged

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar said that more than 4,900 ha of land will be submerged once the Mekedatu project is implemented. 

While around 4,700 acres will be forest land, 280 acres will be revenue and private land. 

The Minister said that a "maximum" of 1,500 people residing in three villages -- Sangam, Muthathi and Madivala, will be displaced. All three villages will get submerged, he said.

Shivakumar said that the Water Resources Department would provide alternative land (revenue) in the district for afforestation.