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NEW DELHI : The Centre plans to give a major push to hydroelectric power with a total investment of about 51,000 crore, with a focus on improvement in infrastructure and creation of employment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir.

After the government’s decision to come up with the Kwar hydro project, two more projects are in the pipeline and the ministry will soon seek cabinet approval for them, Union power minister R.K. Singh said on Thursday.

The announcement comes a day after the Union cabinet approved a proposal to invest 4,526.12 crore to construct the 540 MW Kwar hydroelectric project on the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir.

The total investment in under construction hydro projects in the Union territory stands at 23,000 crore, with the latest decision to construct the Kwar, according to the minister.

The move would create 12,000 employment opportunities in Jammu and Kashmir and take the installed capacity of hydropower in the Union territory to 3,000 MW, he said.

“We are going to undertake two more projects. It is in the final stages. We will take it to the cabinet," Singh said, adding that these two projects would add another 2,800 MW of capacity.

The two additional projects that the ministry plans to set up would come with an additional investment of 28,000 crore, taking the total investment in the hydropower segment in Jammu and Kashmir to 51,000 crore, the minister said.

“This will lead to job creation, downstream economic activity, and a multiplier effect in Jammu and Kashmir. It will also make available more power to Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

The union territory will also be able to earn income from the free power it will get from the projects, Singh said.

The Kwar Hydro Electric Project in Kishtwar district will be implemented by Chenab Valley Power Projects Private Limited (CVPPPL), a joint venture between NHPC and Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation, (JKSPDC) with equity contribution of 51% and 49% respectively.

The Centre will extend a grant of 69.80 crore towards the cost of enabling infrastructure and will also support the Union territory by providing a grant of 655.08 crore for equity contribution of JKSPDC (49%) in CVPPPL. NHPC shall invest its equity (51%) of 681.82 crore from its internal resources.

As of 16 April, India had a total installed hydro power capacity of 46,723 MW, which forms 11.7% of the total installed power capacity in the country. The focus on hydro power in the Union territory comes on the back of the Centre’s plans to boost infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370 in 2019.

On 24 April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, inaugurated and laid foundation stones of multiple development projects worth more than 20,000 crore.

Modi also laid the foundation stone of Rattle and Kwar hydroelectric projects with a total capacity of 850 MW to be constructed on Chenab river in Kishtwar at a cost of 5,300 crore.

The investment in hydro power projects also gains momentum as the policy focus has shifted to renewable energy to help achieve India’s target of carbon neutrality by 2070. The focus on new sources of energy also comes at a time several states and Union territories, including Jammu and Kashmir, are facing power shortages.

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