New Delhi: Arunachal Pradesh has a hydropower potential of more than 50,000 megawatts (MW), but till date, only 400 MW has been developed.
After deliberations with the Union Ministry of Power, the state government has decided to expedite hydropower projects that have completed preliminary feasibility reports.
Projects with a combined power-generating capacity of 4,412 MW are expected to be expedited, and all projects will be constructed on the Subansiri River.
The recent decision by the Arunachal Pradesh government to award contracts for six hydropower projects is expected to change the scenario.
The projects include the 800-MW Niare, 360-MW Nalo, 1,000-MW Naba and Oju-II, 552-MW Dengser and 700-MW Oju-I hydropower projects.
As of now, the Arunachal Pradesh government has awarded contracts to three power projects with a total generating capacity of 5,600 MW.
These include the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower project developed by NHPC. This project is likely to be commissioned by 2014. The other projects, the 2,000-MW Subansiri Upper was awarded to KSK Energy Ventures, the 1,600-MW Subansiri Middle was secured by a joint venture between Jindal Power and Hydro Power Development Corporation (HPDC) of Arunachal Pradesh.
Recent reports indicate that NHPC is facing hurdles related to the construction of the 2,000-MW Subansiri Lower, which is on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border.
The Assam state government has refused to sign the memorandum of understanding for the project until issues related to environmental viability of the project are satisfactorily addressed.
A report submitted by a panel suggested that the location of the project at Gemkhamukh is unfeasible, since it is prone to seismic activity, sedimentation, floods and landslides.
In a related development, the Indian government has decided to shift focus on fast-track development of hydropower projects on the Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh. The decision has been made to counter the construction of hydropower plants by China across the border on the Yarling Tsangpo River. This river flows into Arunachal Pradesh as Siang River.
As the first step, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the 2,700-MW power project awarded to the Jaypee Group, is in progress. Three hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 11,000 MW are in preliminary stages. Studies have indicated that the Siang River basin has a hydroelectric power generating potential of 20,000 MW.
India reportedly has a hydropower generating potential of 149,000 MW, of which only 25 per cent has been tapped. The north-eastern region of the country is among the top destinations for hydropower projects.
The proposed power projects in Arunachal Pradesh are expected to ease the power crisis in the north-eastern region of the country and supply power to other power-starved states in India.