Govt doesn’t have any time-line for harnessing hydro power potential

*Admits failure to tap solar potential on large scale

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 9: Notwithstanding much hype over availability of whopping 20,000 Mega Watts of hydro power potential in Jammu and Kashmir, even the present PDP-BJP Coalition Government doesn’t have any time-line for availing the benefit of this natural wealth despite the fact that only 3263 Mega Watt potential has been harnessed till date.
This was admitted by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, who is also Minister Incharge Power on the floor of the Legislative Assembly today. Like the previous Power Ministers he too boasted about availability of 20,000 Mega Watt hydro power potential in the State and said that if tapped this natural wealth can change the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the figures, which he provided in response to the question of MLA Mohd Yousuf Tarigami, exposed the lackadaisical approach in harnessing this potential in a time-bound manner. He informed the House that against 20,000 MW available potential, only 3263.46 Mega Watts has been harnessed till date by the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation, NHPC Limited and Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
Though he made mention about the plans of tapping 8917 Mega Watts in future by JKSPDC, NHPC, Chenab Valley Power Projects Ltd (CVPPL), which is a joint venture between JKSPDC, NHPC and PTC, in the ratio of 49:49:2, yet he failed to specify any time-frame for the same. He simply mentioned that under State Sector 23 projects with the capacity of 3867 Mega Watts will be constructed and under Joint Venture mode, four projects with the installed capacity of 2714 Mega Watts will be constructed. Similarly, he informed the House that 2 projects with capacity of 1130 Mega Watts, one project with 850 Mega Watts and 34 small projects with installed capacity of 356 Mega Watts have been planned to be constructed.
Among these projects, he also talked about Ratle Hydroelectric Project but he didn’t give any information vis-à-vis steps taken to ensure re-start of work, which otherwise stands abandoned during the past quite long time mainly because of failure of the Government to chalk out future course of action especially after the Hyderabad-based company refused to construct the project of immense importance.
Moreover, the Deputy Chief Minister gave details about various projects, which are at various stages, but he failed to specify any time-frame for their completion. He only mentioned that 23 projects have been allotted/under execution, 21 projects have been tendered out, 6 projects are at DPR and clearance stage and 14 projects have been earmarked to be taken up under Prime Minister’s Development Package.
The Minister Incharge Power also admitted failure of the Government to tap solar power potential, which has been assessed at 111 GW by the National Institute of Solar Energy. The inability of the Government to avail benefit of available solar power potential was exclusively highlighted by EXCELSIOR in its edition dated December 17, 2016.
“The State Government had proposed to harness 5000 MW in Leh and 2500 MW in Kargil for which even Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. However, because of expensive cost of evacuation of power from Ladakh, the harnessing of solar power on a large scale in Ladakh is possible only after suitable and cost effective arrangements for evacuation of power”, the Deputy Chief Minister said.
He claimed that State Government has already taken up the matter for setting up evacuation infrastructure with the Government of India. “Presently, Government has planned to set-up pilot solar power projects of 5 MW each in Leh and Kargil districts. Apart from this, 254 MW solar power is proposed to be harnessed by Jammu and Kashmir Energy Development Agency (JAKEDA) separately”, he added.
When asked whether there is any Result Framework Document for the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation in promoting construction of new power stations, the Minister Incharge Power said, “there is no RFD in practice in the Corporation”. He, however, said that Corporation has made a perspective plan for promoting new hydel power stations in Jammu and Kashmir.