The Centre has initiated efforts for revival of three suspended hydropower projects on the river Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand with a high-level delegation led by Union Power Secretary H S Brahma visiting the area today to make an assessment of various issues.
Brahma along with Uttarakhand Principal Secretary, Energy, Shatrughan Singh and state power adviser Yogendra Prasad flew to Uttarkashi district to visit some of the project sites on the Bhagirathi and held talks with a cross-section of people to ascertain their views.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Union Secretary for Environment and Forests Vijay Sharma held an open public hearing at Uttarkashi on the three projects. “These visits are very significant,” said Additional Power Secretary Saurabh Jain.
The visit came in the wake of the October 5 meeting of the Ganga River Basin authority (GRBA) presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at New Delhi. The GRBA is yet to decide on the fate of NTPC’s 600 Mw Pala Maneri and two other projects.
After visiting the dam site of NTPC’s 600 Mw Lohari Nagpala and other suspended projects, Brahma said he would prepare the report and submit to the GRBA but made no comments on the resumption of these projects. The final decision on these projects would be taken by the GRBA, he said.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has so far remained non-committal over the suspended projects, saying the sanctity of the Ganga should be maintained at all cost. However, Yogendra Prasad told Business Standard that all the three projects should be revived to meet the growing power needs of the country as well as Uttarakhand.
While NTPC’s Lohari Nagpala, which is being built in Uttarkashi district at an investment of Rs 2,500-3,000 crore, was at a very advance stage, the state-run Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL) had also done considerable work on the Pala Maneri and Bhaironghati projects. NTPC had already invested Rs 550 crore in the Lohari Nagpala project and UJVNL Rs 100 crore in the Pala Maneri project.
In May, the Uttarakhand High Court entrusted the responsibility of these projects to the GRBA, which was set up early this year by the Prime Minister, which also declared Ganga a national river.