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Baghliar ? a white elephant?

The Rs 2,800 crore spent on the Baglihar hydroelectric power project in six years may go waste, as financial institutions have refused to give it any more money.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 01:44 IST
Arun Joshi

The Rs 2,800 crore spent on the Baglihar hydroelectric power project in six years may go waste, as financial institutions have refused to give it any more money.

There is fear that the effort and money spent on the project so far will down the drain, despite optimism of the Power Development Department over the project’s commissioning deadline in the next 18 months.

An additional investment of Rs 1,200 crore is needed, but no work has been done for six months. Landslides and floods damaged tunnels and other parts of the 450-MW project in July-August last year and exposed flaws in its designs. Government sources said it is unlikely that work will resume soon.

"The bigger problem is that banking institutions are not willing to invest even a single penny in the project," said a government official. The reason: Economic experts have called Baglihar "a role model of how not to construct a hydroelectric project."

"It is difficult convincing financial institutions about the viability of the project," the official said.

The project was conceived 25 years ago and work began in 1999 when the state government took over construction from the National Hydroelectric Project Construction Corporation. Now, officials fear the project may die if funds are not available. The dam is supposed to be 144 metres high but hardly more than 70 m of it has been constructed. New diversion tunnels have to be constructed and a huge power house too.

The Power Development Department though is confident that will meet the deadline of commissioning the dam in 18 months.

"We hope it will be commissioned by 2007," said Power Minister Nawang Rigzin Zora.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 01:44 IST