Uttarakhand working on policy for small hydropower projects: Official

Updated on Aug 13, 2022 04:12 PM IST

Experts have welcomed the move but have cautioned against what they described as too much government interference, saying this is one reason why micro and medium hydropower generation in the state is far from its potential.

Uttarakhand villagers said watermills, like this one in Uttarkashi’s Chaijula, could be repaired and upgraded to produce power
Uttarakhand villagers said watermills, like this one in Uttarkashi’s Chaijula, could be repaired and upgraded to produce power

Mussoorie: The Uttarakhand government has decided to formulate a policy to encourage power generation from village rivulets by setting up small hydropower projects up to 25megawatts (MW), a senior government official said.

Uttarakhand power secretary Meenakshi Sundaram said: “Considering the state’s hydropower generation potential, we are preparing a policy for setting up small hydropower projects up to 25 MW on the banks of the rivers and rivulets in the villages. Under the plan, we will provide concessions to encourage people to set up the projects which will help in generating employment too.”

Officials said a committee was set up to study micro and medium hydropower generation and come up with guidelines and financial incentives to encourage people to set up small power generating units in villages.

Sandeep Singhal, managing director of Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL), who was part of this committee, said they have submitted their report.

“I was one of the members of the committee and after a detailed study, we have submitted the recommendation that there are immense possibilities of increasing power generation in the state and for that, we have proposed some relaxations in the policy so that more people can take up to power generation at a micro level.”

Experts have welcomed the move but have cautioned against what they described as too much government interference, saying this is one reason why micro and medium hydropower generation in the state is far from its potential.

JS Bisht, a renewable energy consultant said: “The policy should focus on a single window system and guidelines with a tax relaxation should be incorporated so that more people at the smaller level are interested in setting up the projects.”

He added that private entrepreneurs and panchayats should have the right to select the site and set up the plant in line with government guidelines.

Villagers said if the water mills in the villages are upgraded to power generation units, they could add up to the state’s power generation capacity and help raise farm incomes

Subash Lal, village head from Chaijula in Uttarkashi district, said, “We had around 18 water mills (gharats) in the village but due to lack of maintenance and migration, most of them have been damaged, leaving the village with only two that can only be used to lighten few bulbs in the village.”

If these gharats are repaired and upgraded, they could generate power to make our village energy self-sufficient, he said.

Anil Joshi, a green activist and founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO), who has worked extensively on water mill power generation projects said it was important to involve village communities if the policy has to deliver.

Anil Joshi is considered to be a pioneer in modernizing the traditional watermill by replacing the wooden turbine with an iron one and installing an alternator and a voltage stabilizer thus increasing the power generation at the local level.

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