Built by Maharja Pratap in 1902, Mohra Power House Is One Of The Oldest In South Asia
Srinagar, June 19: Authorities of Power Development Department (PDD) are mulling to set the wheels on for one of the oldest hydroelectric plant — Mohra Power House — in south-Asia after a gap of almost three decades. The power plant in frontier Baramulla district came to a grinding halt in the aftermath 1992 after serving for almost nine decades.
The details accessed by Kashmir Glory, backed by official authorities suggest that the history of the Power Plant dates back to 1902. Believed to be developed by JKSPDC in early 1905, the Plant had a total generational capacity of 9 Mega Watt.
However, in the aftermath of floods in 1992 the Plant underwent “generational loss” and “subsequent increase in repairing costs”, which ultimately forced the concerned for its closure.
A peek into construction and subsequent development of the Project suggests that “Mahraja Pratap Singh, the monarch of Kashmir, had hired the services of European born engineer, Major Alian de Litbniere, to conceive a hydro-electric project at Mohra which was considered an advantageous terrain – Mohra, a hamlet is at a distance of about 40 kilometers from main-town Baramulla.”
The project, as per official records, got commissioned in 1902 and became operational in 1905 during the days when ‘Reinforced Concrete Technology’ wasn’t much in practice in the valley and accessible to the world only through the horse driven carts.
The head works were constructed of brick masonry and the uphill task of carrying water through steep terrain from Rampur — a hamlet in Boniyar lying at a distance of about 10 Kms from Mohra — was done by constructing a wooden flume for two-thirds of the length.
The heritage project was taken up on the left bank of the river Jehlum on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road at Boniyar in Uri with an additional aim to boost tourism potential of beautiful Jehlum Valley, the records suggest.
Till 1992, the power plant successfully catered to the demands of a many households in the district, however it fell to official apathy on the grounds of “generational loss” and “subsequent increase in repairing costs” in the aftermath of 1992 floods.
Locals in the area alleged that since 1992, “successive regimes did little to revive the plant”, adding “even the oldest machinery and tools of the Mohra Power house have been shifted to Ganderbal Power House.”
“In the year 2015 JKSPDC hired a Delhi based consultant firm for up-gradation of detailed project report to revive the prestigious project in view of its heritage value however nothing significant was done as the Plant still lies in a limbo”, sources in-the-know-how of the development said.
“Given the historic and economic importance of the Mohra Project, it is imperative for the higher authorities to make efforts to renovate this heritage project”, they remarked.
Pointing at a photograph hanging on the corridor wall of a Hungarian electrical engineer Lajos Kapas who died of an electric shock on November 22, 1962 at the power house, an senior employee remarked “It is as if he too is waiting for Mohra power plant to become operational again.”
However it seems that the authorities have finally woke up to the call as concerned authorities may roll tenders very soon to make the Plant functional.
When contacted, General Manager Engineer Mohammad Hussain Teli told Kashmir Glory that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Plant has already got approval under PMDP (Prime Minister’s Development Package).
“The work on the Project got stalled this Lockdown situation”, Teli said adding “Once this situation subsides, the project would be tendered out by the PDD (Power Development Department).”