Home Articles Hydro power assessment for small ungauged catchments in Himalayan region using GIS...

Hydro power assessment for small ungauged catchments in Himalayan region using GIS techniques

Arun Kumar , M. K. Singhal
Alternate Hydro Energy Centre,
University of Roorkee Roorkee
 Indian power sector has an installed capacity of 86000 MW. Out of which 25% is hydro power and remaining are thermal, nuclear and gas-based projects. Power shortages in our country are estimated as 9% of total energy and 18 % of peak capacity requirements. Thermal based power projects have environmental repercussions related to emission of suspended particles and gases. While, large hydro power plants could lead to degradation and erosion of soil, loss of forests, wild life habitat and bio-diversity and most important is the resettlement of people. To promote the environmentally sound energy investments as well as to help in mitigating the acute shortfall in power supply, the Government of India is promoting development of country’s renewable energy resources and had made it a priority thrust area under India’s National Environmental action plan. As there is vast potential for development of Small Hydro Power projects, enormous funds shall be required to tap this potential. Considering the large requirement of funds, it may not be possible alone by Government to provide adequate finances. To mobilize additional resources for the small hydro power, private sector participation has to be encouraged. In many states, private sector has been invited to tap the hydro power resources for captive use as well for commercial purpose. Private sector participation in renewable energy has also increased significantly in recent years as Government of India has opened the power sector to private sector participation. The run-of-river schemes are existing mainly in hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and North Eastern States of our country. A significant number o:f potential sites have been identified for development by private developers (table 2). The categories of sites identified in Himachal Pradesh have been shown in table 3. The schemes allotted to private sector, specially in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, have limited hydrological data. These projects if planned and designed scientifically, based on regional hydrology, may be less affected by risk and provide excellent opportunity for development.

Utility of Regional flow Duration Models
Flow duration curve is a simple graphical depiction of variability of water flow at a location without any reference to the sequence in which this flow would be available. Flow duration curve for the site for which adequate flow data is available can be directly developed. Flow for various levels of dependability for gauged site may be estimated from this curve. It is quite obvious that most of the prospective sites for hyrdo-power projects are likely to be ungauged. For such potential sites, there are either insignificant data or no flow data available for such analyses.

To derive: a flow duration curve for a location on a stream for which adequate flow data are not available, Regional flow duration curve may be used. Regional flow models are developed on the basis of data available for a few other gauged catchments in the same region or transposed from similar nearby region. Such models are employed to compute flow duration curves for ungauged catchments in that region. Availability of such regional flow duration models is of paramount significance in estimating the potential of hyrdo-power in remote hilly regions of the country.

Regional Flow Duration Model Developed Under UNDP-GEF Study
The regional flow duration models for hilly states have been developed by National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee in association with Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) under Zonal Plan Activity of UNDP-GEF Hilly Hydro Project – Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Resources, Govt. of India. The yearly flow duration model provides the pattern of flow at an ungauged catchment. For the development of flow duration model, the physiographic characteristics of catchment like catchment area, perimeter, length of main channel, elevation of highest and lowest points, geology of area, hydro-geology of area, land use pattern. climate and other parameters should have been taken into account. However the model developed under above study is based on catchment area of gauged site only. The main reason was non-availability of topo-graphical features for significant number of gauged catchments, availability of data for individual catchment for short length and paucity of time and resources in carrying out detailed study. It was decided to pool the available data together within a region to form a single data series by making them non-dimensional for obivating the need of relating the flow data of individual catchment with their physiographic characteristics. Only mean flow from a catchment, used for making the flow record non-dimensional, was related to catchment area.

The flow duration models, under the above study, were developed for nine regions covering all thirteen states of Himalayan region. These models are expressed mathematically in the form of algebric equations and graphically in the form of plots. The model data was verified with the actual measured data in case study. As the confidence limit is not very encouraging, so the flow duration obtained from above regional flow model may be used only for pre-feasibility studies. The installed capacity may be based on the actually measured discharge data.

Utility of Remote Sensing Data for Catchment Analysis
Remote Sensing data available in the near infrared region (0.8 um – 1.1 um) provides clearly the contrast between land and water features and therefore is best suited for mapping perennial streams. IRS-LISS III-Geocoded False Colour Composites (FCCs) data may be used for identification of catchment boundary, drainage network, perennial streams, landuse and vegetation cover for these projects. Digital Elevation model (DEM) of these catchments may be generated by digitizing the elevation contours and spot heights from topographic maps and using capabilities of ARC/INFO GIS module (ARC-TIN) with user defined azimuth, elevation and look angle. The catchment boundary, drainage network and location of major habitation may be overlaid on these DEMs for further analysis.

Objective of Present Study
The objective of study in progress at this centre is to develop the modified regional flow duration model by collecting the discharge data of more gauged catchments with longer duration and relating more physiographic characteristics of gauged catchment with the mean flow. The database of Small Hydro Potential sites will also be updated with the availability of additional information about the catchments

Data to be Used for the Study
To develop the modified regional flow duration model for ungauged catchments and to update the database of Small Hydro Potential Sites in Himachal Pradesh, following data are being collected by this centre for the gauged sites

  • Physiographic characteristics of Catchment Name, Geographic location, Catchment area, Altitude of gauging station, Mean & maximum altitude of catchment, Influence of ice/snow/glaciers, Catchment map/drawing., Stream network in catchment area, portion of catchment which is forest or under glacier, area of catchment covered by snow (mean of maximum snow cover)
  • Meteorological Data Time-series of river flow data (daily or l0-daily), monthly precipitation, temperature, solarity, relative humidity and wind speed for all meteorological station with altitude of station
  • Areal climatology Digital or paper maps of monthly/seasonal/annual precipitation, evaporation, temperature, snow cover, relative humidity, solarity, wind direction etc.
  • Digital Terrain Model data (DTM) Digital Terrain Data for Himachal Pradesh (Longitude 75O-79 O 10′ and Latitude 30 O – 34 O) is being procured from SPOT Image Corporation U.S.A. which shall have 305 m elevation posting in a grid data structure. Digital Terrain Models shall be used for computation of slope, channel length, area of catchment, head available for power generation and location of suitable sites for civil structures of small hydro power projects such as Diversion Weir, Feeder and Head Race Channel, Desilting Tank, Forebay Tank, Power House Building etc.

    Repetitive satellite data for these catchments may be effectively used to locate the region of deforestation and impact of small hydro projects development on forest in the catchments. The sites in deforestation regions may be considered as potential sites for hydro power station to control the deforestation to a larger extent.

  • Transmission Line Network Data It is proposed to integrate the existing 11 kV transmission line network with small Hydro Potential Sites. This information will have a bearing on priority of sites selected for development as for those sites which are close to existing transmission line network, expenditure on laying and maintenance of transmission line from small hydro project upto the existing network will be reduced considerably
  • Other Data Geology, Hydro-Geology, Soil Cover and Land Use and other parameters are to be related with modified flow duration curves

The Gee-Graphic locations of gauged sites have been shown in Fig.l. Some of the sites forming a cluster have been shown in fig. 2.



Development of small hydro projects in remote places of hilly area will enhance the quality of life in these areas. Development of regional flow duration model and Small Hydro Potential Sites Database will enable to plan for Hydro-Power Development on a sound scientific basis. This will help in bringing the prosperity to the area in particular and region in general. Development of Small Hydro Schemes will also help in reducing the migration from these areas and reduce the dependency on forest and fossil fuel products which are being used to meet the energy needs. The efficient Small Hydro Potential Sites in GIS environment will hasten the process of planning and implementation of small hydro projects for which private sector has shown a considerable interest.


  • “Pre-Investment Study of New and Innovative Small Hydero Options”, prepared by Alternate Hydro Energy Center for Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd., Ministry of Non- conventional energy Sources, Govt. of [ndia-1999
  • “Development of Regional Flow Duration Models”, developed by Alternate Hydro Energy Center in Collaboration with Department of Earth Sciences, Centre of Remote Sensing, University of Roorkee, under UNDP-GEF Hilly Hydro Project, Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Govt. of India-1998
  • Brochure for Entrepreneures, issued by Himurja and HPSEB, Himachal Pradesh-1998
  • India’s Electricity Sector – Widening Scope for Private Participation, 4th Edition, issued by-Ministry of Power Govt. of India – Sept. 1998
  • “GIS” in Small Hydro Planning Resource Management”, By Arun K. Saraf, Department of Earth Sciences and Arun Kumar, Alternate Hydro Energy Centre, University of Roorkee, journal on GIS Development, Sept.-Oct., 1997

Table-1: Small Hydro Schemes for Private Sector Investment
State Total Identified Alloted Under Allotment
? Projects Capacity (MW) Projects Capacity (MW) Projects Cpacity (MW)
Andhra Pradesh 17 91.5 17 91.15
Tamil Nadu 70 156.95 3 10.90
Karnataka 166 444.40 39 272.90
Orissa 14 195.70
Kerala 65 203.08 8 76.50 48 105
Uttar Pradesh 11 104.28 3 25.78 8 78.5



Madhya Pradesh 93 158.80 13 22.95 80 135
Punjab 22 19.40 22 19.40
Himachal Pradesh 137 200.00 54 69.89 83 130.11
Total 595 1,573.70 137 570.07 241 468.86
Table 2: Category of Potential Sites in Himachal Pradesh
Capacity No. of Sites
Head Range (m)
No. of Sites
51-100 5 5        
101-500 43 43        
501-1000 41 41        
1001-3000 77 52 2 9 14  
Above 3000 150     23 111 16
Total 316 141 2 32 125 16

Table3: Attributes of Potential SHP Sites in Himachal Pradesh
S. No. Catchment District Long. Lati. Toposheet no. Basin Catchment Area (sqkm) Highest Pt. (m) Lowest Pt. (m) Catch Fed by Head m Q90% (cumec) Pw Q90% (kW) Priority
1 Bakanwal Chamba 76.43 32.97 52 D/5 Chenab 14.80 5297 2163 S, G, R 400 0.3 950 4
2 Balij Chamba 76.38 32.53 52 D/6 Ravi 53.10 4597 1400 RF 120 1.0 864  
3 Balij ka Nala Chamba 76.32 32.47 562 D/7 Ravi 44.30 3446 1200 R 160 0.8 984 1
4 Balsio Chamba 76.15 32.88 52 D/1,5 Ravi 212.50 6321 1360 S, G, R 80 3.2 1920 1
5 Banjhalwal Chamba 76.42 32.97 52 D/5 Chenab 39.50 5252 2200 S, G, R 320 0.7 1782 1
6 Bend Chamba 76.17 32.50 52 D2 Ravi 13.80 2890 1240 R 320 0.3 715 1
7 Bhuar Chamba 76.23 32.47 52 D/3 Ravi 24.30 4029 1200 R 160 0.5 584 1
8 Bhula Chamba 76.70 32.47 52 D/11, 15 Ravi 75.50 5656 2500 S, G, R 120 1.3 1173 1
9 Bhula-ii Chamba 76.70 32.45 52 D/11, 15 Budhil N. 73.80 5656 2500 RF 200 1.3 1916  
10 Bhujia Chamba 76.72 32.43 52 D/11, 15 Budhil Nadi 72.50 5656 2500 RF 240 1.3 2264  
11 Braguna Chamba 76.28 32.47 52 D/2, 6, 7 Ravi 47.00 3893 200 R 120 0.9 777  
12 Chakka Chamba 76.00 32.38 43 P/13, 52 D/3 Beas 70.00 2858 820 R 80 1.2 732 1
13 Chalatu Chamba 76.72 32.47 52 D/11, 15 Ravi 62.80 5702 2600 S, G, R 160 1.1 1333 1
14 Chandal Chamba 76.00 32.75 43 P/13, 52 D/1 Ravi 15.00 3542 1700 R 160 0.3 384 1
15 Chanju Chamba 76.25 32.73 52 D/2, 6 Ravi 211.00 5685 1400 R 80 3.2 1908 1
16 Chasag Chamba 76.55 32.98 52 D/9 Chenab 206.00 6443 2616 S, G, R 40 3.1 934 1
17 Chatri Chamba 76.12 32.75 52 D/2 Ravi 50.80 3827 823 R 120 0.9 831  
18 Chatri Chamba 76.12 32.75 52 D/2 Ravi 49.00 3327 823 R 120 0.9 806 1
19 Chenab Chamba 76.57 32.98 52 D/9 Chenab 55.50 6443 2400 S, G, R 160 1.0 1197 1
20 Chirchind Chamba 76.42 32.45 52 D/7 Ravi 78.00 4692 1360 R 50 1.3 503  
21 Chobia Chamba 76.60 32.45 52 D/10, 11 Ravi 109.30 5857 2000 S, G, R 120 1.8 1617 1
22 Chulan Chamba 76.67 32.27 52 D/11, 12 Ravi 65.50 4581 2024 RF 200 1.2 1728  
23 Churput Chamba 76.78 32.85 52 D/9, 13 Chenab 21.20 5575 3000 S, G, R 400 0.4 1303  
24 Dare DH Chamba 76.60 32.77 52 D/9 Chenab 20.50 4096 2560 S, G, R 600 0.4 1891 1
25 Dare DI Chamba 75.98 32.60 43 P/14, 52 D/2 Ravi 30.50 2482 600 R 160 0.6 712  
26 Darjeyang Chamba 76.88 32.90 52 D/13 Chenab 22.00 5808 3680 S, G, R 280 0.4 938 1
27 Dehar Chamba 76.05 32.23 52 D/3, 4 Ravi 26.30 1242 480 R 20 0.5 78 1
28 Dhadiund Chamba 76.15 32.90 52 C4, D1 Baira N. 132.00 5014 1350 RF 240 2.1 3809  
29 Dharaul Chamba 76.65 32.47 52 D/10, 11 Budhil 24.10 5723 2280 RF 840 0.5 3046  
30 Dheda Chamba 76.37 33.08 52 C/8, 12 Chenab 120.00 5321 2000 S, G, R 200 1.9 2922 1