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Origin Of Electricity Boards In India

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Dr. D. Shina,

S N College, Kollam, Kerala, India

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The history of electricity can be traced back to the eighteenth century. The first instance of sensing the phenomenon of electricity was the accidental observation of what was later found out to be neon glow by Framas Bauksbw in 1709 at the Royal Society in London. Luigi Galvani observed moving of the legs of a dead frog when touched with a metal scalpel. This also was later found to have happened due to production of electricity by chemical process. Almost at the same time, Alessandro Volta made the first form of battery. Thus a new phenomenon, the Electric current, was produced which paved the way for the historic and swift growth of Electricity Science. Andre Marie Ampere (1775 to1836) and George Simon Ohm (1787 to 1854) made notable forward leaps in this new sector of science. Later, the invention of electric bulbs, electric motors, etc, initiated the astonishing growth of Electrical Engineering.1

The industrial revolution and the consequent industrial growth were virtually the growth of electricity also. Electric drives actually drove the whole industrial world. The modern age saw the emergence of electricity as a household helper also. Many consider the invention of electricity and electricity industry to be the major breakthrough after the discovery of fire.

The history of Electrical Engineering in India can be traced to as far back as 1886, when unorganized schemes for electric supply were established in various parts of the country. The first power station in India was at Darjeeling, established in 1897. Pioneers in power generation in India were the Mysore Government. A 450 kW hydroelectric project was set up in Kaveri River at Sivasamudram in 1902. This was for power supply to the gold fields at Kolar. However, commissioning of the hydroelectric project Simshapur in Karnataka can be considered the starting of the Electricity Era in India. The Simshapur Power Station was set up to feed power to Bharat Gold Mines and the Mysore Maharaja's Palace. 2

One 3000 kW power station was commissioned in Madras City in 1906 by the Madras Electric Supply Corporation Ltd. The Jhulum Hydroelectric Station at Mahora with an installed capacity of 4227 kW was inaugurated in 1909 under the Government of Kashmir. In 1912, the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation installed a 15, 000 kW thermal power station at Kossipur. The Tata Hydroelectric Power Company commissioned the first large power station in India with 50,000 kW capacities at Khopoli near Bombay in 19142. Electricity was used only for lighting purpose up to 1920.

In the period of 1921 to 1940, there was better progress in power development. During this period, the aggregate installed capacity increased from about 1, 30, 000 kW to 12, 00, 000k W. It was only after 1930 that the Provincial Governments began to think of a policy of development of power projects, particularly hydroelectric projects under public ownership.

During the decade 1941 to 1951, the growth of power development was largely affected by the Second World War and the abnormal post-war conditions. Features of power development in this period especially during the latter half of the decade included increased participation of various state Governments in the Electric supply industry. Mysore, Punjab, Madras, the erstwhile Travancore State and Uttar Pradesh were already in the field.

Certain other states like West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa also entered the electricity generation and distribution field during the post-war period.

From 1951 onwards, the power supply industry came under the plan economy of the five-year plans. At the beginning of first five-year plan, the total installed capacity of power generating plants in the country was 2.3 million kW. During a period of 20 years from the beginning of the first five-year plan, i.e., from1951 to 1971 the total power generating capacity increased to a sevenfold value of 16.4 million kW. The decade plan for power development put forward by the Government of India in 1971 envisaged an increase in peak demand of 36.5 million kW as against the then figure of 16.4 million kW. 3

The emergence of more Power Stations and Transmission lines throughout the country didn't take much time. Till 1948, electricity generation, transmission and distribution were governed by Electricity Act 1910. The Government used to give licences for generation, transmission and distribution of power. But this type of approach was not conducive to a balanced and sufficient growth in this key sector. There was absence of co-ordination and a meaningful orientation for fast development of the power sector. The importance of electricity industry was duly recognized by that time and an active role in the field was taken by the government.

The government initiative

When India got independence, the installed capacity of the country was a meager 1940 MW. The enacting of the Electricity Supply Act 1948 paved the way for establishing the State Electricity Boards. It was a major keystone in the history of Electricity in India, which brought this prime industry under the public sector. There were major steps in the legal framework for the power sector. The whole picture of enactments in the sector will be dealt with in detail, later in this chapter.

The State Electricity Boards presented a commendable picture in the growing independent India. Till now, the State Electricity Boards ran the show, but now a new era seems to be opened in the electricity sector. Of late, reform process and new legislations are attaining momentum.

The establishment of the Central Electricity Authority in August 1975 was the next important landmark. The objective was central monitoring of the electricity sector, aiming at integrated development of the electricity system of the country, with a national vision. Then, the installed capacity of the country was 18,317 MW. The next 25 years witnessed phenomenal growth in the electricity sector. Now, the installed capacity has crossed 1, 10,000 mW. This capacity consists of 72,000 mW of thermal power, 24700 mW of hydropower, 2900 mW of nuclear power and 1,200 mW of wind power. National Electricity Grids came into being and the Central Electricity Authority undertook the role of the controlling agency monitoring inter-state dealings in the power sector, import- export, matters regarding grid discipline, quality of power, etc.

The establishment of the national and regional load



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