Shimla: Public sector hydropower undertaking Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (SJVNL) has spent Rs.104 crore on a mega project in Himachal Pradesh, which is yet to get the central clearance, Power Minister Sujan Singh Pathania said Wednesday.
“But there was no delay in execution of the 588-MW Luhri project on the Satluj river in upper Shimla,” he said in a written reply in the assembly.
“A revised detailed project report was submitted to the Central Electricity Authority March 14 for accordance of techno economic clearance,” the minister said.
Official sources told IANS that SJVNL had been forced to reduce its electricity generation capacity from 775 MW to 588 MW to lessen its impact on environment.
They said the World Bank funded project has been facing protests by locals, who have been opposing its twin tunnels.
Fifty national groups and green activists had questioned the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) clearance to the project.
In a missive to Minister for MoEF Jayanthi Natarajan in January, they demanded the cancellation of the environment clearance granted by the ministry’s panel.
An expert appraisal committee (EAC) on river valley projects of the ministry at its meeting last November had recommended environmental clearance to the project, the letter said.
“Recommending environment clearance without first undertaking carrying capacity and cumulative impact assessment is in violation of the Supreme Court order of May 2006,” it said.
SJVNL deputy general manager Vijay Verma told IANS that the estimated cost of the project is over Rs.5,000 crore and it is likely to be commissioned by 2020.
With 10 hydropower projects in Nepal, Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh under execution, the SJVNL aims to tap 6,000 MW by 2020.
Its 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri hydropower project, the country largest hydropower project, is in Shimla district. It started generation in 2004-05.