Guwahati, Jan. 21: The Union power ministry is gearing up to expeditiously harness the hydropower potential of the Northeast as part of its plan to develop the region’s infrastructure.
The ministry told the parliamentary standing committee on energy recently that the development of infrastructure, including roads and power transmission and evacuation systems was being accorded top priority to help harness the region’s hydropower.
It said despite the Northeast having high hydropower potential, inaccessibility and low demand for power were among the factors contribution to the slow pace of growth in the region.
This is apparent from the fact that out of 58,971MW identified hydropower capacity in the Northeast only 1,158MW (1.98 per cent) has been developed.
A number of hydel projects in the region have still not been commissioned owing to a number of factors. For instance, want of environmental and forest clearances has held up the Dibang hydroelectric project, while the lack of a forest clearance is holding up the Tawang stages I and II. As for the controversial lower Subansiri hydel project of the NHPC, an agitation by anti-mega dam activists against its commissioning fearing of an adverse downstream impact and the earthquake vulnerability of the dam wall has kept work stalled for several months now.
Sources said a tentative capacity addition of 5,353MW had been envisaged in the Northeast (including Sikkim) for the Twelfth Plan. This comprises 4,177MW of hydroelectric and 1,176MW of thermal power.
The total fund requirement for generation capacity addition in the Northeast and Sikkim in the Twelfth Plan has been estimated at Rs 54,215 crore, the cost per megawatt assumed for the purpose being 10 per cent higher than the average all-India cost for setting up projects of similar nature.
Regarding the issue of handing over of the projects to private developers in Arunachal Pradesh and their transparent selection, the state has informed the Centre that the projects have been allotted in line with the State Hydro Policy 2005 and in a transparent manner duly examined by a high powered committee constituted by the state cabinet.