Energy Ministers discuss hydro power revival at the bi-annual state power ministers’ conference

Recently at a Pan-India biannual energy ministers meet in Simla, the water scarcity of Simla and woes of power sector were discussed. The host state Simla suggested immediate and long-term reforms in the hydro power sector. Himachal Pradesh’s Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur requested the government to give hydropower similar status as solar power.

“For years, the people of Himachal have given their land and labor for the growth of hydro power in the state. They have not been duly compensated till yet even after giving up their river catchment areas and natural resources. The pain of displacement from their ancestral land still exists. We urge the Central agencies to expedite the compensation,” – Jai Ram Thakur, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

He further suggested that “hydro sector needs ‘Hydro Purchase Obligation” for assured take-off of power, medium term sale of hydro power, giving renewable status to hydro is the need of the hour and we urge the Centre to look into these demand.”

In other developments, the draft amendments in the National Tariff Policy 2018 also has a clause suggesting exclusion of Hydro Power and “waste heat gases as a byproduct of industrial process” from RPO calculation. The draft NTP proposes to change the basis of calculation of RPO. It states that consumption from hydropower and from “waste heat gases as a byproduct of industrial process” shall be deducted to calculate RPO.

Further the Union Minister RK Singh suggested of a new hydro policy in the pipeline and said that “All advanced countries are exhausting their hydro capacity. In the past few years, hydro projects have been stalled because of that (protests) and geological challenges. The hydro power (delay in commissioning of projects) then becomes costly.”

The new policy is supposed to have points like:

  • To bring down the capital cost of hydro power projects
  • To discontinue mandatory sale of free power for 10-12 years so that the developers can recover the cost
  • To provide soft loans no longer than 30 years

All these points are in turn supposed to reduce the cost of hydropower projects.

Shimla hosted close to 18 state power ministers, 29 senior officials from 26 states at the conference. Currently, Shimla is facing a major water scarcity and the tourism is also affected due to this. Hydropower and tourism are two major revenue generation activities in the state.

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