The Planning Commission and the Ministry of Environment & Forests have reached an informal understanding to allow hydro power projects, that have little potential of environmental damage, to take off without waiting for more comprehensive studies of the whole basin. Hydro segment is one where a large number of projects have hit the environmental hurdle and about one-fourth of India’s planned expansion in generation capacity is in hydro power. There is already a huge slippage on the generation targets set for the current Five Year Plan as the target was revised from 78,700 MW to 62,000 MW. For the next plan, the power ministry aims to add 30,000 MW of hydro capacity with Rs 150,000 crore.
Over 13 projects with a combined capacity of 3,990 MW were awaiting environmental clearances. Most are based in Arunachal Pradesh, HP and Uttarakhand, including Reliance Energy’s 280 MW project at Urthing Sobla in Uttarakhand, Jindal Power’s 1,600 MW Subansiri project in Arunachal Pradesh, THDC’s 400 MW Koteshwar project and NHPC’s 630 MW Gurba Tawaghat project.