NetIndian: The World Bank has approved a $ 648 million loan to THDC India Ltd for constructing the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Project on the river Alaknanda in Uttarakhand, which is expected to generate an estimated 1,665 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year to help relieve India s chronic power shortage. A press release from the Bank said that, as a hydropower project capable of starting up quickly, the plant would help meet the sharp daily spurts in demand from households and industries at peak electricity consumption time.
It said this would represent a valuable addition of peaking power to India s Northern Grid, which faces severe power shortages at high-consumption times.
The 444 Megawatt Vishnugad Pipalkoti Project will also help reduce India s greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 million tons each year, compared to a thermal plant of the same capacity.
“The Government of India is committed to improving the access of its people to power and thereby removing this constraint to human development and economic growth. Hydropower is one of cleanest means of electricity generation and the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project is a priority project that will help relieve power shortages in India,” Mr Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, said.
The project will build a 65-meter diversion dam near Helang village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand to create a small reservoir in the Alaknanda. A 13.4-kilometer headrace tunnel will carry the water to an underground powerhouse near Haat village to generate the power. All the diverted water will then be returned to the river, the release said.
According to it, there will be negligible impact on downstream water quality and THDC will ensure that there is a minimum flow of 15.65 cumecs of water in the Alaknanda at all times to sustain the aquatic health of the river. This is equivalent to approximately 45 percent of the average lean season flow in the Alaknanda and represents one of the highest minimum flow standards maintained by any hydropower project in India.
The project has benefited from the Ministry of Environment & Forest’s comprehensive study of the cumulative impacts of hydropower development on the Alaknanda basin, and is one of the first hydropower projects in the country to implement a higher, more environmentally sustainable minimum flow regime, said Mr Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. This is an important illustration of how India is balancing the needs of rapid economic growth with environmental sustainability, he said.
The Union Ministry of Environment & Forests had, in July 2010, commissioned a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative impacts of hydropower development on the Bhagirathi and Alkanand basins. THDC s Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Project was among the projects scrutinized and was cleared for construction with an enhanced environmental flow requirement.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, THDC is keen to see the Indian hydropower industry move to more sustainable practices and we look forward to our continued association with the World Bank as we build out internal capacity and set up systems that will achieve this,” Mr R. S. T. Sai, Chairman and Managing Director, THDC India Ltd, said.
Once the project begins generation, each household affected by the project will receive 100 kWh of free electricity every month for 10 years. THDC will also make available one per cent of the annual revenue of the project for the development of the local area and can be used to build hospitals, roads, water supply schemes and so on. This is apart from Rs 310 million that THDC will provide to help build community infrastructure (like footpaths, footbridges, panchayat ghars and so on) in project-affected villages over the next five years.
The power generated by the project will feed into India s Northern Grid, benefiting consumers in the states of north India and improving the availability of power at reasonable cost to those who currently have limited or no access to electricity. It will also provide Uttarakhand with a royalty of 12 per cent of the power generated, which is estimated to be around Rs. 90 crore each year at expected tariffs.
A part of the Bank loan to THDC will help support the company s capacity-building programme that seeks to bolster its core technical staff and develop new competencies in the areas of social and environmental management at the Project and corporate levels.
The low-interest loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a six-year grace period, and a maturity of 29 years, the release added. Source>>
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