Nineteen hydro-electric projects of various capacities are under construction in the Himalayan region, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday
The Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanjeev Kumar Balyan, replying to a question, also provided data on the number of dam projects which have been concurred by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and are yet to be taken up for construction, and also those which are under examination in the CEA.
Of the 19 under-construction projects, all of which have above 25 MW capacity, four each are in Uttarakhand and Sikkim, three each in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and one each in Mizoram and Punjab.
The share of hydropower in India’s energy mix has fallen precipitously in recent years as thermal capacity addition gathered momentum while hydel projects continued to languish.
Despite India’s energy security being vulnerable to price swings in the global market, not much attention has been paid to harnessing country’s vast hydropower resources to build generating stations wherein fuel costs are nominal. Poor connectivity to areas with the bulk of hydropower potential and high risks of escalation in project cost and tariff are factors that further complicate challenges to building hydel projects.
The 2012 floods in Uttarakhand have also fuelled widespread concerns over the ecological impact of hydropower projects, giving more ammo to critics which has further dented investors’ confidence.
Uncertainty about final project cost and tariff has also made discoms reluctant about buying electricity from hydel projects under long-term contract. It is because discoms are finding it increasingly difficult to pass on increased electricity cost to consumers.