Great article on how micro hydel projects are changing the face of rural and remote Nepal..interesting to note that 20% funds for setting up a micro hydel projects come from the community and these projects take just 21 months on average to start producing. Thats seems like a remarkably short gestation period. In Chitwan region, there are villages which have not taken a penny from the government and have set up their own micro hydel projects. The electricity bill per family in this remote setting is barely 40-50 Rs. per month. It would have taken years or even decades for grid connected power to reach these areas.
Grid connected small and large hydros have not contributed this brilliantly to the local electricity scene.
So we have a states like Uttarakhand where hydros generate more than 3000 MW of power, but most of it is sold outside and more than 1200 villages are still without electricity, having lost their rivers in the bargain. In the same Uttarakhand, agencies likes UREDA are working on micro hydel projects less than 2 MW and have till now electrified more than 250 villages with just 3.41 MW. Unfortunately, the large dam lobby neglects these projects entirely as they do not generate market based profits. These are the projects and initiatives which deserve support through mechanisms like CDM. But
, the large hydro dominated scene right now is just Andher Nagari Chowpat Raja.
Incidentally, Climate Change is a spoiler for these micro hydels too. This year in Nepal, many villages had to again succumb to darkness as the water levels in rivers fell abnormally. A great adaptation and mitigation measure against Climate Change is itself so vulnerable to its impacts..
Interesting parts of the story are the influence of not only regionalism, but casteism which also influences water management investments in Maharashtra.
There are some gray areas like how compensation paid to farmers who lost their land while rivers and streams were widened and the overall soundness of the idea of widening and deepening river channels. Despite these, this is an inspiring story of how the community reclaimed its water.
Today Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala’s house at Devprayag was attacked reportedly by the agents of the Alaknanda hydro company that is building the 330 MW Srinagar hydro project in Uttarakhand. A Press note condemning that attack:
The lobbying attempt is evident from the factually wrong claims in the report: “Hydro-projects are more eco-friendly, cost-efficient and a renewable source. They do not emit green house gases”, the reporting agency and its author seems to have no idea that not only hydro projects generate green house gases like methane and carbon dioxide, they are not eco friendly, cost efficient or green.
Shockingly, the report goes on to advocate carbon emission reduction credits for the project, which is totally unjustifiable, as these projects DO NOT deserve CDM credits as they are neither additional nor sustainable, which are basic requirements for any projects to qualify for CDM credits.
The report is also WRONG on basic facts: it says installed hydro capacity in India is 34 GW, when it is in excess of 40 GW already.
Instead of looking at the falling efficiency of the existing hydropower projects, the study claims that hydro production is falling due to long gestation period required for projects due to terrain complexity and geopolitical issues of the areas in which the projects are located!