Public sector units (PSUs) setting up hydroelectric projects are fine-tuning their relief and rehabilitation (R&R) strategy in an effort to overcome opposition to these projects from the local populace. The PSUs will adopt industrial training institutes (ITIs) in the region where the project is being developed and use their facilities to train local people.
Most hydro projects involve some amount of displacement of the local population.
“Today, the relief and rehabilitation packages are more compensatory in nature. We are now looking at income generation schemes rather than just a one-time settlement. We have asked the PSUs to adopt ITIs in the region where they are setting up projects six months before they start the project,” said a senior power ministry official who did not wish to be identified.
A senior executive at National Hydroelectric Power Corp. Ltd (NHPC) said that the company has already identified some ITIs in Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. “The technicians can be trained during the construction phase, which will also increase our manpower availability. This will also to a certain extent solve the construction problems,” added this executive who did not wish to be identified.
NHPC is setting up hydro power projects with a combined capacity of 4,500MW in Arunachal Pradesh.
“It is a proactive step and will also help in averting time and cost overrun,” said K. Ramanathan, distinguished fellow at The Energy and Research Institute (Teri), commenting on the PSUs’ plans to tie-up with ITIs.
According to the power ministry official, such a scheme would not only “contribute towards the employability of the project-affected people” but also help developers address a shortage of trained manpower.
India has a power generation capacity of 135,000MW. The government has set a target of adding 78,577MW of power generation capacity during the 11th Plan (2007-12). Hydroelectric power projects—which are more complicated to construct than thermal power projects, needing specialized technology and designs—are expected to contribute over a fifth, or 21%, of the planned capacity.
PSUs such as NHPC, North Eastern Electric Power Co. Ltd, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, Tehri Hydro Development Co. Ltd and NTPC Ltd are expected to add a major part of this capacity.
Concurrently, the sector is expected to see an increase in demand for trained manpower. According to the power ministry, there is a manpower requirement of 68,350 in the hydroelectric power sector at present.
This is expected to go up to 92,270 by 2012.
“There is a lot of shortage of technicians for the hydroelectric power projects that we plan to set up. Such an arrangement (with the ITIs) will be mutually beneficial,” said a senior executive at NTPC, who did not wish to be identified.