Ladakh’s mega solar power project delayed, to be ready by 2026
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in budget that inter-state transmission system for evacuation and grid integration of 13GW renewable energy from Ladakh to Kaithal in Haryana will be built with investment of ₹20,700 crore, including central support of ₹8,300 crore
The ultra-mega solar project of Ladakh that will not only shore up the region’s economy but will also be India’s major stride towards carbon-neutrality to meet its ambitious declaration for producing 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 is running behind schedule with tenders yet to be floated.
Last week, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in her budget speech that the inter-state transmission system for evacuation and grid integration of 13GW renewable energy from Ladakh to Kaithal in Haryana will be built with investment of ₹20,700 crore, including central support of ₹8,300 crore.
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Though tenders are yet to be floated, the Centre hopes to meet the 2026 deadline.
“This project is about developing a mega solar wind hybrid plant at Leh. Overall, the renewable power potential of Ladakh is up to 35 gigawatts (GW). A major bottleneck for harnessing was construction of a transmission system of sufficient power evacuation capacity for these projects and cumulative project cost is high,” said Ladakh power secretary Ravinder Kumar.
Work in progress
In the initial stage, 20,000 acres, free from wildlife issues, were earmarked in the Pang region of Changthang for developing the 10 GW solar project.
“Now, the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) is taking up the project and preparing a detailed project report (DPR) and other essential studies. The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is preparing the DPR for the 765 KV DC transmission system from Pang to Kaithal for evacuation of power from the proposed solar project,” Kumar said.
The sparsely populated Ladakh region lacks a dedicated round the year power facility and there has been a consistent demand of local residents for reliable cheap power. “Once completed, clean and green power, economic development and improvement of the socio-economic condition of the nomadic people in Pang and adjoining areas will be achieved,” he said.
Dream project, but a concern
Though the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC-Leh) Chushul councillor Konchok Stanzin said the project will boost Ladakh’s economy and ensure cheap power, the nomadic tribe of Pang region are concerned that grazing pastures of their livestock will go to the project.
“Overall, it’s a dream project. It is one of the largest solar parks of the world, but the local people have a concern. Since they depend upon their cattle for livelihood, they fear the grazing pastures may be used in building the project,” said Stanzin.
Allaying the fears of the local residents, Ravinder Kumar said that a study will be conducted in this regard. “In any case, solar panels have provision for allowing grazing beneath them,” the power secretary said, adding that new pastures will also be developed.
Ladakh is spread over 60,000 sq km in the Himalayas and has a population of 1.34 lakh.