Eco-friendly hydel projects must for northeast: Minister

July 26th, 2011 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, July 26 (IANS) Favouring setting up of hydel projects in the northeastern states, Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar Tuesday said these do not adversely affect the environment, unlike thermal power projects.

“The hydel power projects are eco-friendly unlike the thermal power projects. Dams are much needed for power generation, and personally I am for tapping the huge potential of this resource in the region,” Ghatowar told journalists here.

Ghatowar, who has replaced B.K. Handique as DoNER Minister, visited the North Eastern Council (NEC) headquarters in Shillong.

The NEC, a regional planning body, is chaired by Ghatowar, and has as its members all the governors and chief ministers of the northeastern states, including Sikkim.

Terming the northeastern states “the power house of the country”, Ghatowar urged the state governments to tap the vast potential in the field of hydel power.

“The power projects will improve the face of the region,” he said.

Asked on the delay on Assam gas cracker project, Ghatowar said the project is now directly monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office to ensure that it is completed in time.

He said the cost of the project has gone up to Rs.8,000 crore.

On the demand of the civil society groups to scrap the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri hydro-electric power project in Arunachal Pradesh, Ghatowar said experts are looking into the concerns raised by the NGOs in Assam and the government would ensure that there is no downstream impact of the power project.

Appealing to the people of Assam to welcome the projects as it would benefit the country as a whole, he said the central government had set up a joint steering committee to study means of mitigating the downstream impact.

An inter-ministerial group, apart from a two-member committee of experts constituted by the Planning Commission, was examining the impact of the dam and its technological feasibility, he added.

Several organisations, opposing the project, have been preventing turbines and other equipment meant for the project from being unloaded from barges in Assam.

The Rs.9,000-crore Lower Subansiri project, being implemented by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), is the biggest hydroelectric project undertaken in the country so far and is a-run-of-the-river scheme on the Subansiri that includes a 116-metre high concrete gravity dam.

It is slated to be commissioned by 2014.

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