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Planning of Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydroelectric Project

P.K. Saxena and A. Rengaswamy


Hydel Civil Design Unit, Central Water Commission, New Delhi
ABSTRACT The Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydro Electric Project (PUSHEP) is conceived to provide additional installed capacity of 3 X 50 MW over the existing installed capacity of 70 MW at Pykara Power House, located at Singara, by utilizing additional flows of 17.5 cumec available due to linking of three streams with Pykara river. The existing surface powerhouse, commissioned in 1932, has surface penstocks whereas PUSHEP is planned to be fully underground. The aspects involved in planning of the underground powerhouse and water conductor system are briefly discussed. THE PROJECT The Pykara Ultimate Stage Hydro Electric Project (PUSHEP) is located in the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu. It utilizes the excess flow of Sandynallah, Naduvaltam, Melkodumund, and Lone valley streams which are interlinked and allowed to flow into Moyar which is a tributary of the river Cauvery. The water collected at Glenmorgan forebay is utilized to generate 150 MW of power through 3 nos. of Pelton units, each of 50 MW capacity, located in an underground powerhouse. The gross head available is 1063.6 m. The tail water is proposed to be discharged into Maravakandy dam, near Masinagudi where a surface powerhouse of 1 x 50 MW is being planned. Figs. 1 (A) and 1 (B) show the plan and profile of PUSHEP. The project envisages a separate underground water conductor system with head race tunnel (HRT) taking off from Glenmorgan forebay, a surge shaft of restricted orifice type and a pressure shaft carrying water into an underground power house, and a long tail race tunnel (TRT). The salient features of main components are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Design Discharge Gross Head Head Race Tunnel Surge Shaft Pressure Shaft Power House Cavern Transformer Cavern Tail Race Tunnel (TRT) Cable/Ventilation Shaft 17.5 cumec 1063.6m 2.42 x2.10 m D shaped, 361 m long 8.0 m dia., restricted orifice type 2.4 m dia., 1349 m long, steel lined trifurcating near powerhouse 20 x 36 x 78m, underground 12 x13x 56 m, underground 3.5 x3.1 m D shaped 6805 m long 5.50x 5.85 m, D shaped, 540 m long to 230 KV Switch yard.

PUSHEP - WHY UNDERGROUND ? The existing powerhouse at Singara is of surface type, housing 4 Pelton units. The 4 no. surface penstocks of this project are laid over slopes with gradients of >40. A question immediately arises - why not a surface type powerhouse for PUSHEP, similar to the existing type, instead of an underground one ? The various factors that governed to plan an underground powerhouse are covered in the following paragraphs. ENVIRONMENTAL AND FOREST CONSERVATION One of the governing criteria was forest conservation. The existing site is located in dense forest of Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary habited with various rare species of flora and fauna of Nilgiri Hills (Blue Mountains). Any surface type structure will not only damage the environment but also would also interfere with and disturb the wild life. The existing powerhouse, built in 1932, did consider this aspect but the technology available at that time did not permit to go for an underground project. GEOLOGY During preliminary investigations by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), the geology of the area has been found to be highly favorable for an underground powerhouse. The GSI interpreted the rocks in the project area to be massive Charnockite and migmatic gneiss requiring only light supports. The project is now under execution and the rock media encountered conform to the inferences drawn earlier by the GSI during the investigations. The rock quality varies from good to very good without major shear zones having 'Q' value around 40. PLANNING OF WATER CONDUCTOR SYSTEM The pressure shaft was initially planned to be in a single reach sloping at an angle of 51 degrees from surface shaft to the powerhouse. It was found that sufficient rock cover in vertical and horizontal directions was not available to take advantage of rock participation due to internal pressure. This resulted in a very high thickness of the steel liner, particularly in the lower reaches. In view of the above, studies were conducted in Central Water Commission to plan an alternative but an economical alignment. Alternative 1 comprises a vertical shaft from surge shaft at El. 1953.36 m to the centerline of turbine at El. 933.0 m, followed by a horizontal length up to the powerhouse. The Pressure shaft is planned as fully unlined and only 250 m reach near powerhouse is kept as lined. This type of unlined shaft is commonly preferred in advanced countries like Norway. Alternative 2 comprises a vertical shaft of 253.36 m in length up to El. 1700.0 m, then inclined at 50 degrees up to center line of turbine at El. 933 m, in a single reach and finally leading into the power house horizontally. The alternative 3 comprises pressure shaft in two reaches. Upper reach is planned to slope at 60 degrees from surge shaft to the intermediate adit at El. 1445 m, followed by a horizontal kink of 25 m. Below this level, sufficient horizontal rock cover is available and flatter inclination of pressure shaft is adopted - sloping at 45 degrees up to El 933 m followed by a horizontal length up to power house which is also shifted upstream by 60 m to further reduce the length of pressure shaft. All the above alternatives are planned to have a sufficient rock cover to ensure rock participation. Though alternative 1 is found to be more economical due to elimination of steel liner, it is apprehended that rock falls in pressure shaft of such small diameter may lead to frequent shutdowns and power loss in addition to cumbersome maintenance.

Alternative 2 which comprises a fully lined pressure shaft is found to be more favorable. However, it requires provision of an adit at El. 1700 m to facilitate erection of the bend. This could lead to a single reach of 1000 m, lower reach of pressure shaft without any intermediate adit and thus was not found favorable for speedy excavation of pressure shaft and erection of steel liner. Alternative 3 is found advantageous as it ensures sufficient rock cover in upper reach also. This alignment has resulted in overall saving of Rs 138.4 Lakh (at 1994 price level). A considerable part of it is in valuable foreign exchange. It is achieved due to reduction in imported steel liner. The lower thickness has also resulted in reduction in transportation and handling costs. Introduction of intermediate adit No 2 at El.1445 has facilitated the excavation of pressure shaft and erection of steel liner from two faces thus resulting in speedy completion of the works. The Power House and Transformer caverns were originally planned in association with the GSI after taking into account the probable orientation of joint sets likely to be encountered in the power house area. The orientation of joint sets, mapped now during execution, has confirmed that the orientation fixed is the most stable one, having least stability problems. The orientation is further reviewed on receipt of the results of insitu stress tests carried out by National Institute of Rock Mechanics, Kolar. ROLE OF CENTRAL WATER COMMISSION (CWC) The CWC is the principal consultant to the civil works of this project and has the experience of design of 94 hydel projects of different types. The CWC's expertise in the field of hydel civil design has been offered to PUSHEP in the planning of this project as fully underground, taking advantage of the geological conditions. TNEB has recently executed a similar project at Kadamparai under the consultancy of CWC and the experience gained therein is also utilized in planning and design of PUSHEP. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The authors sincerely express their thanks to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, Madras, Geological Survey of India, Madras and National Institute of Rock Mechanics, Kolar for utilizing their data and reports. They also express their sincere thanks to the CWC for according permission to bring out this paper.

Paper presented in Symposium on Modern Practices in Geotechniques held between November 20-22 , 1996 at Lucknow and organized by Indian Society of Engineering Geology. The paper has been published in Journal of Engineering Geology Volume XXV, Nos 1 to 4 ( ISSN 0970-5317 )