In what observers say is a departure from the previous stance of going slow on hydropower projects the Uttarakhand government is now pushing hard for faster clearances for 10 hydropower projects in the state. Towards this aim, the state is seeking the intervention of the central government in order to bolster the power generation capacity of the hill state.
During a recent visit by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar to Dehradun, power secretary Radhika Jha gave a detailed presentation to him in which she raised the issue of the stalled hydro projects in the state as a result of which investments to the tune of Rs 41,000 crore, she said, are on hold in Uttarakhand.
A few of these projects are Lata Tapovan (171 MW) in Dholiganga river as well as Loharinag Pala (600 MW) and Pala Maneri (480 MW), both of which are on the Bhagirathi river.
After the flashfloods in 2013, all the hydropower projects in the state were put on hold by the Supreme Court. However, citing that the held-up projects were impacting the state’s power sector growth, the power secretary said that the state government had given a presentation to the Niti Aayog requesting that “implementation of 10 small hydro projects (with a total capacity of 82.5 MW) should be allowed in Bhagirathi Eco‐sensitive Zone, as has been allowed in other ESZs.”
However, conservationists are not pleased with the fresh interest of the Uttarakhand government in the hydropower projects. Himanshu Thakkar, convenor, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRAP) told TOI, “It is surprising that the state government instead of completely scrapping the hydropower projects is trying hard to revive them. I feel it would be a big mistake if this is allowed to happen.”