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Bengal awaits nod for Bhutan power project

Calcutta, Feb. 16: Bengal is awaiting the clearance of its 500MW hydro project in Bhutan for which it had sent a proposal to the Centre a year back.

Bengal’s first overseas project — Amochu II — will be implemented by state-run power distribution company West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL).

“At present, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation is carrying out such projects in Nepal and Bhutan. We have already sent our proposal to the Centre asking for their approval to develop the Amochu II of 500MW. They have not responded yet. WBSEDCL has the necessary expertise to do it on its own,” Manish Gupta, Bengal power minister, said.

Speaking at a workshop on hydro-power development in Calcutta organised by WBSEDCL today, Gupta said the Centre should appoint a coal regulator to keep prices in check.

A.S. Bakshi, chairman of the Central Electricity Authority, who was also present at the workshop, said there were several problems in developing hydro power plants such as land acquisition, infrastructure development, environment and forest clearance delays, local resistance and funding issues with banks.

“We are adding about 1,500-1,600MW of hydro power a year. A 12,000MW capacity addition has been planned for the 12th Plan period. But I think it is unlikely for us to make that mark,” Bakshi said.

“We may touch only 8,000-9,000MW during the period. Although the integrated energy policy states that by 2030-31 the total installed hydro capacity in the country will be 8 lakh megawatt, I do not think by that time we will be able to exploit the potential.

“States have an important role to play as water is a state subject and many clearances come from them. It is their primary responsibility to facilitate development of hydro projects,” he said.

While huge amounts are sanctioned for a project, opposition from NGOs or religious bodies stall their implementation.

 
 
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