|*Map showing metallic and non metallic minerals found in Kerala.|
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Minerals and energy are the natural wealth of any state. A number of factors such as industrial growth of a region depend on the availability of suitable mineral deposits and raw materials and the energy resources readily available in the vicinity. Kerala is a veritable treasure trove of freely occurring mineral deposits. Hydro energy too is available easily but due the inability to harness the full potential of such power the state of Kerala is facing certain troubled conditions. However the Government is taking adequate steps to reverse the situation and increase indigenous power production at a lower cost.
The mineral resources of a state are its greatest asset. The minerals not only earn the state revenue and foreign currency by export to other states and other countries respectively, they also form the raw material for the industries based on them. Kerala is a mineral rich state. The soil is loaded with a variety of inorganic minerals like Kaolin, Bauxite, Monozite, Zircon, Quartz and Silimanite. The golden sands of Quilon beach are rich in the heavier variety minerals such as Monozite, Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon and Silimanite. The total are of the state under mineral mining is as per the following table.
|Minerals||Area (in Ha)|
The state is plenteous in China Clay or Kaolin which forms an important raw material in the production of porcelain items such as crockery and glazed tiles. It is the finest variety of Kaolin found in the entire country and is fundamental in the high tension insulators and sanitary ware producing units. About 80 million tonnes of such fine China Clay are to be found in this state. Another variety of clay is found in Kerala and is useful albeit of an inferior variety. Called Fire Clay this deposit is estimated to amount to 12 million tomes. It forms the raw material in the production of tiles and bricks. Graphite, an allotrope of carbon which is used in the manufacture of the lead used in pencils also occurs freely in the state. The silica and quartz (both essential in production of glass and lens) deposits in the state are estimated to be at 75 million tones. The remaining mineral deposit wealth of the state is a composition of 79 million tonnes of iron ores, 25 million tonnes of limestone, 11 million tonnes of bauxite, 35 million tonnes of ilmenite, 3 million tonnes of rutile, 1 million tonnes of monozite and 0.7 million tonnes of borophite. The bounties of the state's mineral wealth need to be exploited and put to proper use. The industrial potential of this mineral treasure has not been reined in yet. The following table features the figures of production and sale of minerals in Kerala during the year 1999-2000
Energy is one of the most important resources of any state. Be it for household purposes or commercial and industrial needs, the generation of power or energy is one of the most important aspects looked into by the Government. The state of Kerala is no exception. The department of power looks into the power generation, tariff policies, new investments etc. This department functions as the administrative branch of the Kerala State Electricity Board. Power may be generated from a number of sources and hence we have solar power, hydro power, thermal power, diesel power etc. The development of the power generation system in Kerala has been extraordinary. The following table traces this exemplary growth
Traditionally, the emphasis in Kerala has been to exploit the huge potential for generation of hydroelectricity. Also since this power is extremely eco-friendly in the sense that the generation of hydro power is non-polluting, inexhaustible and inexpensive, the production of energy by harnessing energy from the many waterfalls and natural of the state made sense. Till recently, the larger part of the state's energy requirement was met by the hydro energy produced in the state by the 20 hydel power plants of the Kerala State Electricity Board. However, the proclamation of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 has hampered the institution of new hydel power generation projects in the state. Only a fraction of the hydro power generation potential has been exploited thus far; of a power generation potential of about 4333 MW, only 1834 MW has been reined in.
As the demand and need for power in the state increased with increase in industry and power consumption units, the state could not keep pace by implementing new hydro power projects. Therefore the state's dependency on thermal power also increased. Now, thermal power may be imported or generated indigenously. The possibility of an indigenous plant, as a viable alternative, was ruled out due to two factors- the high expenses incurred due to transportation of coal and the eco hazards faced in setting up and running this project. As the power needs ran into deficit the Kerala State Electricity Board was forced to set up two diesel power plants in the state They were established at Brahmapuram near Kochi (106.6 MW) and at Kozhikode (128 MW). The Government of Kerala also acceded to the institution of 3 Naphta based thermal power plants. These were set up at Kayamkulam by NTPC (360 MW), at Kochi by BKPL (157 MW) and at Kasargode by M/s. KPCL (20 MW). More thermal power also continues to be bought from the Central Generating Stations. The ratio of Thermal to Hydel power in the state stands at 66:34 as in 2003-2004. Subsequent years saw the failure of the monsoons and a further shortage of the hydel power production has led to an increase in the import of thermal power and hence in increased electricity costs and the realization remains lower than the expenses leading to a revenue loss for the Kerala State Electricity Board. As on 31st March, 2003, the expense on procurement of 1 unit was Rs.3.99 but the recovery was only Rs. 2.96.
All the villages of the state of Kerala have access to electricity and the percentage of households using electricity is an astounding 84 percent. All 11 kv lines and consumers are metered. Yet for the past years the Kerala State Electricity Board has been running into losses due to these high costs. This deficit is being filled up every year by non payment of interest and electricity duty to the Government, low capital investment and non repayment of liabilities to the PSUs.
There are however a number of steps that can alleviate the situation and given time bring about a reversal. There is an immense need to harness the solar energy and put up solar energy generation plants in the state. This is highly productive, requires low capital and is extremely eco friendly.
Another bona fide option is the use of biogasifiers. The biogas program implemented by the government since 1998 has ensured that this easily procurable resource is tapped into and the great capacity to produce low cost energy is utilized.
The Government of Kerala has mentioned and implemented a few strategies to pull up the Kerala State Electricity Board. These are - "Speedy Completion Of Generation And Transmission, Effective Inventory Management, Speedy Disposal Of Unserviceable Articles; and Consumer Satisfaction".
An exhaustive and comprehensive act known as the The Electricity Act, 2003 has been legislated to look into the areas such as electricity generation, supply, distribution, and usage. If the dictates of this act are properly implemented the energy department the energy sector of the Kerala Economy is certain to see bright days ahead.