Arunachal Tawang residents protest against unfulfilled promises Hundreds of residents on July 22 marched through the streets of Tawang, the home district of newly elected CM Pema Khandu, in protest against non-fulfillment of their demand for jobs to kith and kins of two anti-dam activists killed in police firing on May 2. During the protest march they also led a signature campaign against large dams planned in Tawang, where the predominantly Buddhist Monpa tribe feared that many of the proposed hydro-power projects would damage sacred Buddhist sites in the district. At least 13 large hydro-power projects have been planned in the district, which shares border with China’s Tibet region. On June 21 the Lamas-led Save Mon Region Federation had issued six-point charter of demand to the state government for fulfillment in 30 days. Arunachal comprises a fragile, rich parcel of wildlife and ecosystem, among the richest ecosystems in India. But planning & building of hydro projects has been and will cause irreversible environmental damage. Perhaps it’s time for an aggressive freeze on all the un-built projects and an evaluation of other models of energy. Mr Prema Khandu must consider why Arunachal should become India’s mitochondria-the country’s energy provider, while losing its own enormous wealth. But contrary to this new while addressing a press conference, the new CM, on July 18 said that the govt would find ways to tap the petroleum resources & harness the hydropower potential which could be a money spinner for the state. On the 2000Mw Lower Subanisiri HEP at Gerukamukh, Mr Khandu has emphatically said he would discuss the issue with the Assam govt as well as the Centre for a solution. He said that in all the hydropower projects the affected people should be taken into confidence by both the executing agencies as well as the state govt. The new CM elected from Tawang, seeing the hydropower projects as money spinner does not sound very encouraging. Let us see how far he actually goes to take people into confidence as promised by him.
Bihar CM demands removal of Farakka barrage CM Nitish Kumar on July 16 demanded removal of Farakka barrage on river Ganga, saying “the disadvantages of the barrage appear to be higher than its benefits”. Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the 11th Inter State Council meeting in New Delhi, Nitish also sought the Centre’s intervention to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin so that the entire length of Ganga has continuous supply of water even during lean season. The meeting was chaired by PM Narendra Modi and attended by CMs of different states and union ministers. The CM also told the meeting that responsibility to ensure the required water availability at Farakka barrage has been put solely on Bihar. Presenting Bihar’s views Nitish further added that about 16% of the catchment area of river Ganga is in Bihar, but in the lean season 3/4th of the total water flowing in Ganga comes from rivers of Bihar. Estimated 400 cusecs of water flow is received at the Uttar Pradesh border of Bihar in river Ganga. However, at Farakka barrage, 1500 cusecs of water flow is to be ensured, which is achieved mainly through the water contributed by the rivers of Bihar. Indeed, during lean season, not even 400 cusecs of water flow is available at the border of Bihar. In this regard, Centre’s intervention is required to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga river in Bihar has continuous supply of water even during lean season. Nitish also demanded formulation of an effective National Silt Management Policy, saying such a body at the national level is essential for silt management as well as for ensuring uninterrupted flow of water not only in Ganga, but all the other rivers.
New Hydro Policy: Govt unjustifiably pushing hydro through subsidies A comprehensive policy to promote hydropower generation is set to be announced by September—with viability gap funding for projects, compulsory hydropower purchase obligations for distribution companies and a set of good practices that states have to follow. The idea is to address factors that currently drive hydropower costs up way above those of other sources of power and give policy support in its market development, according to a government official, who asked not to be named. The policy being prepared by the power ministry will have provisions for viability gap funding, which will help in meeting the shortfall in project costs and reducing hydroelectricity tariffs for consumers. Hydropower is expensive and in some cases more than double the cost of power from coal-based thermal plants, which is available at Rs.3-5 per unit.The ministry will also expand the scope of power distribution companies’ renewable power purchase obligations to include hydropower from projects with a capacity greater than 25 Mw. At the moment only power from those with less than 25MW is considered renewable power. According to officials, compulsory hydropower purchase from large projects will either be made part of the existing renewable power purchase obligation of distribution companies or a separate requirement, so that its inclusion does not affect the market for other renewable sources of energy like wind, solar or biomass. Govt unjustifiably pushing hydro through subsidies in proposed new hydro policy can be lead story. It is not going to help push hydro. Continue reading “DRP News Bulletin 04 July 2016 (In Proposed Hydro Policy, Govt Unjustifiably Pushing Hydro Through Subsidies)”