Shinde’s assurance for small hydel projects ‘surprising’

An assurance given by union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for setting up 400-500 small hydel projects with a capacity of 4,000 Mw in Uttarakhand has come as a surprise for many in view of environmental and religious concerns.

An official statement here has claimed that Shinde during his meeting with chief minister B C Khanduri at New Delhi this week had given the permission to Uttarakhand for setting up 400 to 500 small hydel projects.

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“There are lot of ifs and buts involved in the hydropower sector in Uttarakhand,” said a top government official. “There are some court rulings and environmental issues which cannot be ignored when such a big decision is being taken.”
The official said a High Court order had also asked the state government to conduct fresh environmental surveys for setting up hydel projects in the state where environmental and religious issues have already created a death-knell for a series of big hydel projects.

The statement has also claimed that Shinde advised Khanduri to prepare a roadmap for setting up small hydel projects in the state having huge hydropower potential of 20,000 to 30,000 Mw and set the stage for “energy revolution”.

Stating that the Centre had already scrapped three big hydel projects — 600 Mw Loharinag Pala, 480 Mw Pala Maneri and 380 Mw Bhaironghati on religious and environmental grounds, experts said Khanduri’s efforts to set up new projects were surprising because he had joined hands with some environmentalists to suspend these projects in 2008. “It was Khanduri who suspended two projects — Pala Meneri and Bharionghati in 2008 to force the Centre to scrap them completely in 2010,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

The official said Khanduri should wait for the election verdict on March 6 to decide his next course of action.


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