Monday, August 10, 2009

Sikkim’s SOS to Union Power Minister Shinde

To remove CISME redflag on six hydel projects of North Sikkim
GANGTOK, August 9: The State Government has sought the intervention of Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde regarding the six hydel power projects proposed in North Sikkim that has been withheld by the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment (MoEF).
It is informed that the State Government had approached Mr. Shinde for permission to go ahead with the ‘red flagged’ power projects whose total projected capacity is 1047 MW. The private developers of the six power projects are also putting pressure on the State Government to approach the Centre for go ahead with the construction of the projects.
Sources informed that the State government has explained the facts of the six hydel projects in North Sikkim to the Union Power Minister during a recent video conference with him. The State Government has urged the Union Power Minister to take up the matter with the MoEF to remove the bottleneck for the construction projects to begin, the sources said.
It is informed that the Mr. Shinde has assured to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, the State Government will also separately take up the case with the MoEF over the six hydel power projects and seek review of the report of the Centre for Inter-Disciplinary Studies of Mountains and Hill Environment (CISME) about the carrying capacity of Teesta River.
It may be recalled that the MoEF had on July asked the State Government to defer the six hydel power projects in upstream of Teesta River on the basis of CISME report which had concluded that these projects will endanger the fragile economy and bio-diversity of the mountain range in North Sikkim.
The MoEF had taken the CISME report seriously and derailed six proposed hydel power projects in North Sikkim giving the State Government no option but to put the proposed projects in hold following the Centre’s directions to the State Government not to proceed with the construction of the six projects.
The projects affected by the Centre's directive include Teesta Stage I (280 MW), Teesta Stage II (330 MW), Lachen (120 MW), BOP (99 MW) and Bimkyong (99 MW) and Lachung (99MW).
Various formalities like land acquisition and survey works by the developers at the six projects have been stopped after the MoEF wrote a terse letter last month suggesting that these projects were unviable citing a study report by CISME which effectively derailed the projects.
Apart from approaching the Union Power Minister over the derailed hdyel power projects in North Sikkim, the State Government had earlier taken out a white paper on hydel power development in Sikkim which had been tabled in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly during the recent budget session.
The white paper has recommended the State Government to reinvestigate the Chungthang region in North Sikkim where the Ministry of Environment and Forests have asked the State Government that projects above Chungthang region should not be considered for construction of dams due to its vast biodiversity. The State Government cannot abandon projects with 1050 MW capacity that have been awarded to the developers without a proper examination of the issues.
The State Government should, therefore reinvestigate the region to find the factual position and arrive at the final decision with regard of the development of these projects, the white paper had recommended