NHPC submits status report on Subansiri project

NEW DELHI, Dec 30 – Amidst the raging controversy over construction of big dams in the region, the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) has held the delay in signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Government of Assam and the law and order problems, responsible for the slow progress of the Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Power Project.

In its latest report on ‘Status of Hydro Electric Projects under Execution’ the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) without going into the controversies surrounding the project, has broadly categorised the problems beseizing the 2000 MW project.

Signing of MoU with State Government of Assam, washing away of coffer dam in 2008, slope failure of power house in January, 2008, change of surge shaft to surge tunnels, law-and-order problems, damage to bridge at Ranganadi River were cited as some of the reasons for the delays in the status report.

The project, scheduled to be completed by 2011-2012 (12th Plan period), has already witnessed cost escalation to Rs 8155 crore from Rs 6285 crore.

Notwithstanding the apprehension over diversion of the river, the report said that the river was diverted on December 25, 2007 and construction of diversion tunnel completed.

As reported earlier, Government of Assam’s reluctance to sign the MoU has led the NHPC to move the Union Power Ministry, seeking its intervention in the matter.

State Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi had told this newspaper that though the original no objection certificate (NOC) given by the State Government stated that Assam would be entitled to six per cent free power, subsequently NHPC has refused the same. No negotiation has taken place till now among the State Government, NHPC and Power Ministry, he had informed.

“Further we were promised 600 MW of power from the project, whereas what we were actually allocated was 208 MW of power, which is why we have not signed the MoU,” he had pointed out.

The uncertainties over the projects in Arunachal Pradesh led the Board of Directors of NHPC, recently to surrender two other vital hydropower projects including Subansiri Middle and Upper hydroelectric projects (HEP) in Arunachal Pradesh. The two projects are now likely to be handed over to joint venture companies selected by Arunachal Pradesh Government.

The 1,600 MW Subansiri Middle Hydroelectric Project is likely to be executed by joint venture (JV) formed by Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Limited and Jindal Power Limited (JPL), while the 2,000 MW Subansiri Upper Hydroelectric Project may be taken over by KSK Energy Ventures Limited, sources said.

Meanwhile, the 600 MW Kameng Project being executed by NEEPCO has also slipped deadline.