Developers accuse CWC, CEA & forest ministry for delaying energy projects
They said delayed execution of the projects is costing India dearly as the hydropower generation is gradually following in the overall energy mix available for the growth.
Leading the assault, the host state accused the Ministry of Forests and Environment and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) of delaying the clearances to the extent that it, in certain cases, led to the cost overruns. Basharat Ahmad Dhar, the former power secretary who now heads the state’s fully owned Power Development Corporation, offered chilling instants of delayed clearances.
“We got the clearance for Sawlakote in June and then we started a fresh survey that appreciated the capacity of the project and in October we applied again for a clearance but we were told that the entire process will be done again,” Dhar said. “This happened in Baglihar-II where there is no submergence, no relocation or depopulation where the process was done again.”
J&K suggested that it takes a long time to seek a formal TOR from the ministry and then there are qualifications. “It would have been better if the basic Proforma is aviliable on the net and the developers download and then the questions are raised,” Dhar said. “We are losing time twice over and that adds to delays, costs and time overruns thus impacting the overall targets.”
Sandeep Singhal, who is the Director (projects) with the UJVN ltd said the developers are the new “voiceless species”. He referred to a particular Utarkhans project that was forced to be abandoned after half of it was ready. “There are some individuals living far away from Uterkhand and have become activists who led to stalling the projects,” Singhal said.
Participants said there are CWC prepared DPRs which are getting delayed at CEA and MoEF levels. “These institutions are seeking certain details which are as huge as DPR itself,” one participant from an MNC said.
Responding to the fierce debate the Water Secretary Duru Vijay Singh said the developers as well as the state governments are increasingly exhibiting hurry in implementation of power projects that leaves many grey areas to be tackled by CWC and CEA.
“Usually a promoter should have eight years of water flow series while drafting the plan but we have cases in which they try to work it out with a single year discharge,” Singh said. “I need to identify the companies but on environment front, the developers are not offering much of the details.”
He suggested that promoter of projects should have all the clearances and the DPRs in hand and then hand over the project to developers for implementation. “Projects have very scanty geological information about the dams and other structures,” he asserted.
On the overall cooperation from the states for harnessing the overall water potential, the water secretary offered not an encouraging picture. Referring to various states including Punjab, Haryana, J&K and Kerlea, the officer said states seem to be driven by their own priorities on water.
However, the officer said that the only way out to respond to the concerns by the stakeholders in the energy sector is to set timelines for clearances. “There is a possibility of fixing a six month deadline for a clearance and if it is not issued it should be deemed to be approved and cleared,” he said. “There were berths within the union government institutions not filled for some time but we are appointing 2000 individuals in CWC and that must change things now.”
The hydropower conference organized by the India Tech Foundation is being attended by more than 100 delegates from the energy sector. Apart from major players from the technology and civil side, there are various investors and promoting organizations attending the two day conclave. It has J&K as a focus chapter.