With the hydropower sector in the state taking a beating following the suspension of three major hydel projects, the Uttarakhand government is now pulling out all the stops to revive the stalled power plants. To begin with, Chief Minister BC Khanduri laid foundation stone for the 120-Mw Vyasi hydel project on the river Yamuna in Dehradun, which has been gathering dust for the past two decades.
The Vyasi dam is being developed by Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (UJVNL), a state government enterprise, with a cost of Rs 758 crore. The project would produce 438.38 million units of peaking power annually and earn a revenue of Rs 105.29 crore per year.
Vyasi is part of the 420-Mw integrated Lakhwar-Vyasi project that was awarded in July last year to UJVNL to make up for the loss of its two key dams — 480-Mw Pala Maneri and 381-Mw Bhaironghati on the river Bhagirathi. A month earlier, the two projects were put on hold by the state government on environmental grounds.
The state government’s move to allocate Lakhwar-Vyasi to UJVNL came as a surprise because the Centre wanted Uttarakhand to hand over the project back to state-run NHPC, which was preparing the detailed project report (DPR).
Meanwhile, following in the footsteps of the Uttarakhand government, the Centre suspended work at NTPC’s 600-Mw Lohari Nagpala dam site, which too had been stalled following an indefinite fast by environmentalist GD Agrawal.
Besides Lakhwar-Vyasi, the other stalled project in Uttarakhand is 600-Mw Kishau on the river Tons in Dehradun. The state government is now considering a move to resume work on the multi-purpose project, which has remained stalled since the last decade.
For this purpose, the government is mulling a move to allocate the project on a 50-50 joint venture to both UJVNL and Tehri Hydro Power Corporation (THDC), which is preparing a DPR. “We want to go for a joint venture with THDC,” said Yogendra Prasad, chairman of UJVNL. Prasad, who is also a power adviser to the state government, said the joint venture would help in speedy completion of the project. The government is likely to take a decision in this regard soon.
Indian Council of Enviro-Legal Action has filed a petition in the high court for stopping the construction of all dams on the Bhagirathi between Uttarkashi and Gangotri areas.
The Council also sought the court’s direction to restore the natural flow of the river and declare the area a national heritage site, saying these dams would destroy the biodiversity of the river.
To counter this, RLEK has filed a petition in the high court seeking direction to the state government to restart the construction of two major hydel projects — 480-Mw Pala Maneri and 400-Mw Bhairon Ghati on the Bhagirathi river.
RLEK in its petition alleged that the state government halted the construction of these two projects under the pressure of various religious groups and has acted in violation of its own policy regarding hydropower generation.
The NGO also said the shortage of electricity would hit the growth of industries in the state, which will lead to loss of employment opportunities.
Source - Business standard