Assam takes up power projects with Centre

* Prime Minister’s target of 24x7 power for all by 2019 will be met: Piyush Goyal

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, April 10: A day after he expressed the Centre’s keenness to complete the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project, the Union Power minister Piyush Goyal today asserted that the 2,000 MW project at Gerukamukh, in Assam-Aruchal Pradesh border, will be pursued only as per the suggestions of an expert committee dealing with the issues raised against the project.

The construction of the project has been stalled for nearly five years due to protests over its safety.

“The project will come up in a manner as the expert committee suggests and after consultations with all stakeholders,” Goyal assured at a press conference here.

The expert committee was set up by the BJP government to talk with all stakeholders, including the State governments of Assam and Aruchal Pradesh and people in downstream areas of the dam in Assam. Several rounds of consultations have already been held.

Goyal said the expert panel is studying all the issues being raised regarding safety and livelihood of people in downstream areas, and hoped that it will submit its report soon.

 “We are deeply concerned about all issues raised by the people, including safety, means of livelihood, irrigation facilities, threat of erosion, etc. The expert committee will address all these issues,” he added.

The minister said Assam has already been allotted additiol power from the project and over Rs 4,000 crore will be invested for development of areas affected by the project.

He reiterated that the government will keep the interests of the people in mind, and added that once the LSHPP is completed, it will serve the entire North East region.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today urged the Power Minister to raise the capacity of the thermal projects in the State.

Talking to reporters after meeting the CM here, Goyal said he has assured Gogoi of looking into the matter. “I have asked the power secretary to look into the matter of raising the capacity of the thermal projects, as urged by the CM,” he said.

Goyal said the CM has assured of allotting 800 bighas of land for a solar power project and the Centre will target generating 40 MW through it.

“We also talked about cal-top and river-top power projects. The State government has shown interest in it,” he added.

He said that electricity for every household and business establishments in the country round-the-clock at affordable rates will be a reality by 2019.

Reaffirming Prime Minister rendra Modi’s vision of 24x7 power for all, Goyal said it will be achieved by 2019, as the target has been set.

Addressing a press conference at the end of a two-day conclave of power ministers here, Goyal said, “I am doubly convinced of achieving Mr Modi’s dream of 24x7 power for all by 2019. The meet has ended with a clarion call to all stakeholders for cooperative federalism, shared commitment and shared responsibility.”

“Response from all state governments to innovative, out-of-the-box ideas has been extremely good. We have got positive commitment from them,” he said.

He pointed that the conclave did not set long deadlines, but set limited time-frames and even fixed dates for review of some of the proposals adopted.

He said more thrust is being put on renewable energy, in keeping with the PM’s commitment for ensuring protection of the environment while accelerating development.

Power generation through solar projects, biomass, small hydro projects, cal top and river top projects is being pursued.

Power secretary PK Sinha, informing of the resolutions of the conclave, said the meet focused on policy-issues rather than state-specific issues, with ‘Power for all by 2019’ being the theme.

He said the priority issues discussed were on reducing transmission loss, rural electrification and bringing certain amendments in the tariff policy.

Sinha said a task force was set up to identify problems in potential states for hydro-projects. “Renewable Energy was an area of major focus in the conclave,” he added.

Meanwhile, an official statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Union Power Minister Goyal assured that his ministry would examine on priority the proposal of the State Government for setting up of a 660 MW Super Critical Thermal Power Project at Margherita which would use the large, untapped reserve of coal available with the North Eastern Coal Fields.

At present, only one million metric ton of coal from Margherita Coalfields has been linked with various projects. The Union Minister mentioned that he will send a team from his Ministry and Coal India Limited to take the proposal forward.

The Union Minister also stated that he will speed up action on the pending proposals of Assam for increasing the supply of gas to the state owned generating stations at Lakwa and mrup by taking up the matter with the Ministry of Petroleum and tural Gas. He has also mentioned he will look into the proposal for the fil clearance of the pending Kopili Hydro Electric Project.

With regard to the Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Project, the Chief Minister mentioned that the Government of Assam will provide assistance for the project including the security of the equipment and manpower and will also support all efforts by the Centre in implementing the project, keeping in mind the effects of the project on environment, ecology and people in the downstream areas.

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