Monday, November 09, 2009

Hydel Projects will bring socio-economic development in Sikkim: Shinde

Gangtok,Nov09: Union power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that he has taken up with Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF) over stalling the work of six hydel project in Sikkim earlier this year over environmental concerns.

"I have taken up the matter at the higher level for grant of various clearances to the six hydel projects," he told reporters here last night in reply to a question on the status of the six hydel projects which was put on hold by the MOEF four months ago.

Shinde, however, said that the environment-related concerns raised by the MOEF must be addressed appropriately by the stake holders in view of the buzz over the climate change.

The environmental issues must be taken due care of in conceiving hydro power projects, he said, adding even his ministry has made necessary changes in its hydro power policy in view of the environment-related concerns being raised by various quarters.

The MOEF had directed the Sikkim government in July this year bring all construction activities at Teesta Stage I (280 MW), Teesta Stage II (330 MW), Lachen (210 MW), Lachung (99MW), Bimyong (99 MW) and Bop (99 MW), all located in the ecologically sensitive Chungthang Valley in the upstream of Teesta River citing a report by the Centre for Inter-Disciplinary Studies of Hills and Mountain Environment (CISME) saying that these power projects endangered bio-diversity and rare wildlife of the region.

Shinde praised the Pawan Kumar Chamling government for going ahead with optimum utilization of its hydro power resources in Sikkim and said that the Himalayan State was on course to become the richest state in India upon commissioning of various ongoing hydel projects in a few years' time.

With the Chamling government having gone ahead with award of over two dozen hydro power projects in recent years with a proposed generation capacity of 5200 MW, the revenues generated from these projects will make Sikkim the richest state in the country, he said.

The revenues from the hydro power projects will not not only boost the coffers of the state exchequer, but bring in an overall socio-economic development in Sikkim, he said.

A broad range of issues like the local area development, compensation to the project-affected people, jobs to the local people and setting up of training institutes for local youths to honing skills and their absorption in the power projects, have been committed by the developers, Shinde said.

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