New Delhi: A public hearing for the 3,000MW Dibang hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh—postponed several times in the face of local opposition and last scheduled to be held in March—is still pending.
“The dates have been postponed around six-seven times till now. We have requested the state government again and are hoping that the revised date will be fixed soon,” said S.K. Garg, chairman and managing director of state-run NHPC Ltd, the country’s largest hydroelectric generator.
The foundation stone for the project was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January 2008. But the public hearing, required by law before an environmental impact assessment report is prepared, couldn’t be held due to local protests.
The project assumes additional significance, given that India has a running dispute with China over the state’s boundaries.
After an environmental clearance is granted, final clearances are awarded by the Central Electricity Authority, the apex power sector planning body, along with the Public Investment Board, which approves investments by public sector firms.
The state government earlier blamed NHPC for being lax, while NHPC said the state was not doing enough to maintain law and order in the region. Officials of the Arunachal Pradesh government couldn’t be contacted to comment for this story.
Says Kuljit Singh, a partner at accounting firm Ernst and Young: “There is no project monitoring and accountability. When a project is planned, timelines for each milestone should be laid down. If these milestones are not met, some action should be taken.”
The project will require an investment of around Rs17,000 crore which will be met through internal accruals, debt funding and an initial public offering and is expected to be completed in nine years after clearances are obtained.
Arunachal Pradesh has the highest potential for hydropower in India. The hydropower generation potential of India’s northeastern states and neighbouring Bhutan is about 58,000MW. Of this, Arunachal Pradesh alone accounts for 50,328MW.