Realizing Arunachal Pradesh Hydro Power Potential

hydropowerWith the China factor looming large, the Centre is belatedly trying to make up for lost time in setting up hydroelectric projects on the Brahmaputra's Siang Basin in Arunachal Pradesh. China spikes India's proposal for joint mechanism on Brahmaputra

Of the 25 projects totaling over 11,000 MW allotted to developers in Arunachal Pradesh, (most of them over the last decade), construction work has not begun on even a single project. A high-level hydro task force needs to be setup by the state government to ensure that all clearances for these hydro projects are given "utmost priority".

The topography of the state provides for very ideal conditions for development of hydro-electric power projects.

There are few major river basins in the state viz-

  • Kameng river basin,
  • Subansiri River basin,
  • Siang River basin,
  • Lohit River Basin.

There are many similar river systems in the state which also offer very conducive sites for hydro power projects. Almost all major river systems flow in the north-south direction and ultimately drain into the Brahmaputra. As per the Central electricity Authority (CEA), the total potential from 89 major projects is also estimated to be about 49,126MW. The potential from micro, mini and small projects is also estimated to be about 1600MW.  If the available potential can be harnessed the state would be floating in “Hydro dollars” as popularly said that the Arab Countries are floating in “Petro Dollars”

The urgency of the move stems from the realization that not only Arunachal Pradesh but India needs to fast-track building dams on the Brahmaputra to establish its "lower riparian right" and create a strong bargaining position to detract China from building mega hydel projects on the upper reaches of the river.

China, on the other hand, is constructing a massive project, a 38,000 MW dam almost on the India border, on the bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo, the (Tibetan name for the Brahmaputra).

Nabam Tuki Government in Arunachal Pradesh wants to ensure that hydro projects are not stopped midway. But the alleged pro-China activists in the state have stepped up agitations against these projects. That is one of the major concerns for the state Government. Other than that, implementation lapses on the part of the government such as seeking prior environmental clearance, rehabilitation and resettlement program were not taken into consideration at the inception level. As per the Supreme Court suggestion regarding allocation of such projects states, opinion of local people and local authorities must be sorted before commencement of the project.

For instance, the 2,700 MW Lower Siang projects of Jaiprakash Power Ventures have been held up for the last one year due to "local issues", according to the power ministry documentation. Stoppage of work on the 2,000 MW Lower Subhansiri project of state-owned NHPC Ltd and "interruptions in holding public hearing meetings" with regard to the Dibang project (3,000 MW) have been specifically cited as cases affected by local disruptions.

The state government is dedicated towards taking the state forward to the level of self sufficiency in power sector, with responsible and sustainable generation of Hydropower by maintaining ecological balance. The government pledged to generate 3000 MW clean and green energy within next five years in their manifesto. Major responsibility of the government would lie in electrifying all the urban and rural areas by developing infrastructure like setting up Mini/Small hydro project/Wind and solar energy arrangements for the border villages. The government is optimistic about the power generation potential of the state and committed towards optimizing it.