Devendra Kumar Sharma, chairman, Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), has been working in the hydropower segment for over 30 years. He was, in April 2017, appointed chairman of BBMB to run the Bhakra Dam. Prior to this, he was associated with the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board for more than 10 years. He was instrumental in implementing and commissioning the Tata Hydro Power Station in Bhutan, beginning an Indo-Bhutan association in hydropower.
Sharma believes there are several reasons to be optimistic about the power sector. These include the 24,500 MW of generation capacity, 8,500 MW of renewable capacity and 68,000 MVA of substation capacity that have been added; the fact that the renewable energy and transmission capacity additions during 2016 were the highest for any calendar year; and the fact that the energy and peak power deficits in the past year were the lowest for any calendar year.
As a hydro professional though, he cannot but acknowledge the fact that the hydro segment has been lagging for a few years now. Sharma notes that the segment needs to be ramped up through suitable policy initiatives. “Hydro needs to be treated as a renewable energy source so that incentives are made available to developers. Hydro projects are capital intensive and, therefore, suitable measures need to be taken to arrange financing over a longer period and at lower interest rates,” he says.
Sharma has made rich contributions to hydro development, especially in the public sector, in projects such as Nathpa Jhakri (1,500 MW) in Himachal Pradesh and Tala (1,020 MW) in Bhutan. Apart from working in the public sector in India and in Bhutan, he has also worked in senior positions in the corporate sector for almost six years, constructing hydroelectric projects.
Sharma believes in building efficient, high performance teams. He prefers close monitoring, a good work environment for employees, succession planning, assigning of clear responsibility, appreciation for good work done, and the use of modern project management tools.
A graduate in civil engineering from the University of Indore, Sharma pursued his interest in energy overseas. In 1982, he won the Dutch government’s fellowship to study for a master’s in Water Resources Engineering from the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok. Later in his career, he attended courses in hydropower, in Canada, Sweden, Hungary, Japan and Norway.