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Green nod is holding up 30 hydel power projects

THE ASIAN AGE. | ANIMESH SINGH
Published : Feb 11, 2019, 6:53 am IST
Updated : Feb 11, 2019, 6:53 am IST

Another significant reason behind delay in construction of these 30 projects is non-availability of land for compensatory afforestation.

15 hydro-electric projects are still awaiting construction. (Representational image)
 15 hydro-electric projects are still awaiting construction. (Representational image)

New Delhi: Owing to the fact that it takes up to 2,000 days or around six years to get environmental clearance for hydro-electric projects, construction of as many as 30 hydro-electric projects with a combined capacity of 23,500 mw is yet to take off.

Out of these 30 projects, 15 hydro-electric projects which are still awaiting construction due to delay in environmental and forest clearances are situated in the geographical and politically sensitive Arunachal Pradesh, due to its proximity with China.

Construction of these projects in Arunachal Pradesh is extremely important for India to counter the threat of floods, as China releases excess waters from the Tsangpo river (as Brahmaputra river is known there) downstream.

Highly placed sources have said that apart from the considerable time being taken up in getting the all important environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the non-availability of land for compulsory afforestation in the areas where the hydro-electric projects are to be taken up, is also a major reason why 30 such projects are yet to reach the construction stage.

Normally it takes around two years to get environmental clearances for hydro projects, but sources point out that in actuality it takes around 2,000 days or up to six years to get these clearances. In addition to this, forest clearances in two stages also take up to two years, which considerably delays construction of such projects.

Power Ministry sources said that they have held several discussions with the Environment and Forest Ministry to expedite environment and forest clearance, but the issue is yet to be resolved.

Another significant reason behind delay in construction of these 30 projects is non-availability of land for compensatory afforestation.

Top power ministry sources say that there is a need to identify the areas where afforestation could be carried out by the project developerswithout delaying the project.

A proposal is also being mulled within the ministry, where the concerned state government (where the project is to come up) or its environment ministry could be given the work related to compensatory and compulsory afforestation, and for which necessary funds could be provided by theproject developer.

Also due to such delays, the per megawatt (mw) cost of hydro projects go up quite considerably.

Normally the per megawatt cost of a new coal-based thermal power plant comes to around Rs 8 crore/mw. However in case of a hydro project, it comes to around Rs 10 crore/mw, which could go up in case of a delay.

The need for creation of a land bank in advance by the environment and forest departments of the concerned states (where the project is planned to come up) for taking up afforestation process is urgently needed, so that the hydro projects don't get delayed, power ministry officials say.

This would be especially useful in states like Arunachal Pradesh, where the forest cover is more than 80 per cent of the total geographical area.

Tags: hydel power projects