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'Policies of state govts mostly inclined towards pvt developers'

The SJVN Ltd (formerly Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited) was incorporated in 1988 as a joint venture of the central government and the Himachal Pradesh government to plan, execute, operate and maintain hydro-electric power projects. Its chairman and managing director RP Singh spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2011 00:39 IST

The SJVN Ltd (formerly Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited) was incorporated in 1988 as a joint venture of the central government and the Himachal Pradesh government to plan, execute, operate and maintain hydro-electric power projects. Its chairman and managing director RP Singh spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues. Excerpts:

What is the most notable achievement of the organisation in the recent past?
Consistent record generation of energy year after year through its 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station, high return on assets (ROA) that has increased from 12.30% in 2009 to15.48% for 2010, achievement of ‘Excellent’ MoU ratings year after year, bagging of projects even outside India through global competitive bidding, overwhelming response from the public to the SJVN’s initial public offering (IPO), which was subscribed 6.64 times and conferring with various excellence awards are few of the most notable achievements of
the organisation in the recent past.

Can you briefly elaborate on the ongoing projects, the schedule for commissioning of these projects?
SJVN is currently executing Rampur Hydro Electric Project (412 MW) on river Satluj in Himachal Pradesh and the project is likely to be commissioned by September 2013. All other allocated projects are under various stages of survey investigation.

These include three hydro power projects — 252-MW Devsari, 60-MW Naitwar Mori and 51- MW Jakhol Sankri hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand, 775-MW Luhri and 66-MW Dhaulasidh hydroelectric projects in Himachal Pradesh, 900-MW Arun III hydroelectric project in Nepal, 650-MW Kholongchu and 600-MW Wangchu hydroelectric projects in Bhutan. All these projects are progressing well and the SJVN is committed towards a capacity addition of 4000 MW by 2020.

What are the major challenges that hydro-electric project developers face in India?
Environmental concerns, resettlement and rehabilitation issues, land acquisition problems, regulatory issues, long clearance and approval procedures, the dearth of good contractors, very remote and difficult mountainous areas, lack of basic infrastructure facilities such as road network capable of handling the movement of heavy plant and machinery, natural calamities such as flash floods, lack of indigenous manufacturing capacity are the major challenges for hydro developers for commissioning a project within schedule.

However, the government has accorded a high priority to the development of hydro potential. The new Electricity Supplies Act, 2003, Hydro Power Policy, 2008, and proactive action on the eradication of impediments in the way of speedy reform process and capacity addition programmes have helped in early commissioning of projects.

Do you think state government policies are biased towards private sector developers?
The policies of state governments while allotting the projects are mostly inclined towards the private developers. State governments are allotting the projects through bid proposals.

Central public sector undertakings (CPSUs) such as SJVN are under obligation to execute the projects through Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) route only and hence are not able to submit the bid proposals for the allocation. Since the state governments have been demanding the increase in power share with the increase in offer of equity participation, CPSUs such as SJVN, which are mandated to get the projects through the MoU route, do not have a level playing field.