New Delhi: Following reports that China plans to divert water from the Brahmaputra river, Jaiprakash Hydro-Power Ltd (JHPL) has sought to raise tariff for power generated from its project in Arunachal Pradesh if the water discharge becomes limited.
The Jaypee Group company is developing the 2,700MW Lower Siang hydroelectric project in the border Indian state, parts of which are claimed by China.
“They have communicated their concerns to us. However, we cannot do anything as power tariffs are not approved by us but by the electricity regulator,” said a senior official at the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s apex power sector planning body. “It is the only project likely to be affected in the event of China diverting the water.” The official declined to be named.
A Jaypee Group spokesperson declined to comment.
While 107 projects to produce a total of 37,000MW power have been approved for development in Arunachal Pradesh, the neighbouring country has reportedly set in motion a $62 billion (Rs2.85 trillion today) scheme to divert the tributaries of the Brahmaputra towards its arid regions of Xinjiang and Gansu.
Graphic: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint
Only half the power generated from the Lower Siang project would be regulated by a notified tariff; the balance would be sold in the open market. The project is expected to be commissioned by 2015. Jaiprakash Power Ventures Ltd (JPVL) holds an 89% equity in it; the rest is held by the Arunachal Pradesh government.
“If the water discharge comes down, the private developer will go the electricity regulator for higher tariff,” said power secretary H.S. Brahma. “Until and unless China diverts the water, there is no problem for the next 10-15 years.”
According to the Central Water Commission, while 60% of the water in the Brahmaputra comes from India, 40% comes from Tibet, an autonomous region of China.
India has set up a committee under cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to study ways to tap the Brahmaputra river and strengthen its claim over the tributaries that China reportedly plans to divert. Under international law, a country’s right over natural resources it shares with other countries becomes stronger if it is already putting them to use.
China has repeatedly denied plans to divert rivers. “This is baseless. China is a responsible country and will not do anything harmful to other countries,” a Chinese embassy spokesperson in New Delhi had earlier told Mint.
India’s seven north-eastern states have a combined hydropower generation potential of around 58,000MW. Arunachal Pradesh alone has a potential of 50,328MW—the highest in the country, according to CEA.
The other firms that are developing hydropower projects in Arunachal Pradesh include state-run NHPC Ltd, Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Energy Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and GMR Group.