New Delhi: Many of India’s hydroelectric power projects are inadequately protected and could be potential targets for terrorist attacks.
Only the 1,500MW Nathpa Jhakri project in Himachal Pradesh has limited surveillance facility. And one in three power plants is not protected by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the paramilitary wing that covers industrial units.
Photo: Indranil Bhoumik; Graphic: Yogesh Kumar / Mint
The Intelligence Bureau has warned the government that power plants could be targeted by terrorists hoping to derail India’s economic growth.
A terror attack on power plants could cause a collapse of regional grids and lead to a power blackout in states drawing electricity from the targeted grid.
The country currently has five regional grids. All, except the southern grid, are interconnected.
“There is a need for security at these project sites. We are sensitizing them. They are under threat from groups such as Indian Mujahideen and HuJi (Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami),” power secretary H.S. Brahma said. “Though they have mechanical security, they do not have surveillance equipment. Only Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd has limited surveillance facility at its Nathpa Jhkari project. They (hydropower projects) are now in the process of ordering surveillance equipment.”
Projects that face a terror threat include Salal Hydro (690MW), Baglihar (450MW) and Kishan Ganga (330MW) in Jammu and Kashmir, Srisailam (3,600MW) and Nagarjuna Sagar (815.6MW) in Andhra Pradesh, Almatti (290MW) in Karnataka, Bhakra Nangal (1,209MW) on the Punjab-Himachal Pradesh border and Tehri (1,000MW) in Uttarakhand.
The country has a hydropower generation potential of 300,000MW, but only 145,000MW can be exploited.
India’s installed power generation capacity is 154,000MW, with some 300 government-owned projects.
Nuclear and hydropower plants account for 4,120MW and 36,885MW, respectively.
Apart from these, transmission projects—some of which are located near the country’s geographical boundaries—are also on the terror threat list.
“We are conducting security drills at the sites, and also conduct regular review meetings,” Brahma said.
The government expects all the projects to receive CISF cover by 2014.
As demand for its services rises, CISF is looking to hire 10,000 people every year until 2012. It currently employs 112,000.
Industry lobby group Assocham estimates the security industry, which has been growing at around 25% annually, will see exponential growth and double in size to Rs50,000 crore by 2012.