Shimla: With the 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo ready for commissioning, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal let the Vidhan Sabha know that it was not possible to change the proposed transmission line at this late stage.
Responding to a question by GS Bali during question hour, the chief minister said that 9,621 trees, which include 1260 deodar trees, face being axed for laying of power lines by Jaypee Powergrid Ltd (JPL) to evacuate power from the private hydropower project in Kinnaur district.
While showing concern for the number of trees proposed to be felled, he added that earlier 22,650 trees had been enumerated for laying of the proposed transmission line. Disputing the governments figures, he said, â€œas per my information, around 19,600 trees would be axed and these included thousands of fully grown deodars.â€
Dissatisfied with the chief ministerâ€™s reply, Bali said it was a serious environment issue and the government needed to have an alternate route surveyed for saving the number of trees requiring felling.
â€œIt will not be possible at this point of time,â€ said Dhumal. The chief minister said the proposal of diversion of 322 hectares of forest land to JPL for laying the transmission lines had also been approved by the central government July 21, 2009. The chief minister said Rs 26,72,71,714 and Rs 6,62,22,117 had been realized as net present value and compensatory afforestation for laying of the transmission line.
The state government has allowed JPL, a joint venture of the Jaiprakash Hydro-Power Ltd and the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, to lay the power transmission corridor from Wangtoo to Adbullapur. The 230-km long corridor would cost around Rs.932 crore. However, a section of forest department officials hold that there was a lapse on the part of the department to allow the JPL to lay the transmission lines through thickly wooded areas.
One official on conditions of anonymity said JPL has opted for laying the transmission on the left bank of Satluj River as construction costs were much higher on the right bank. â€œAs the right bank was not connected by road, development of a road with bridges would escalate the cost of laying the lines by at least Rs 100 crore, so JPL has opted for the left bank,â€ he said.