SHILLONG, FEB 9: Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma has called for harnessing the hydro-power potential in the north-eastern region to bridge the increasing demand-supply energy mismatch in the region. While speaking at the 3rd North-East and East Power Summit, 2010 organized
by Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata, Dr. Sangma said that the entire north-east region has the potential to generate 60000 MW of hydro-power which, being a form of clean energy will help to reduce global warming considerably. Stressing on the need to integrate the immense potentialities of the region, Dr. Sangma added that there is a need to develop a common market for power generated in the region, so that a level playing field is created for the end-users along with the producers. Since power is a principle input in industrial production, non-availability of adequate and quality power is also contributing to the spiraling rate of inflation in the country.
Along with hydro-power, Dr. Sangma added that the north-eastern states and their neighboring countries should also look to tap other non-conventional sources of energy which act as cheaper sources of power. He further noted that evacuation of power and consequent grid connectivity to the constituent states should also be addressed to narrow the energy gap in the region. In addition to hydro-power, Meghalaya is also rich in coal and uranium reserves, which, if effectively tapped, can resolve the energy crisis issue of the country in a major way. He informed that the Meghalaya government is currently negotiating with NEEPCO and other private players to develop coal-based thermal power plants in the state. It was also learnt that Meghalaya has successfully implemented APDRP launched by Government of India in 2003 and is gearing up for the second phase of its second phase namely R-APRDP.
Previously, welcoming the esteemed gathering, Vishambhar Saran, President – Indian Chamber of Commerce, in his special address threw light on certain current issues of key concerns in the power sector and accordingly suggested policy recommendations to overcome the same. With the government nod for expediting forest clearances in degraded forest lands, Mr. Saran highlighted the impending necessity of bringing down the time taken for forest clearances from approximately 3-5 years to 1 year at the state level. With the energy demand expected to require annual production of 2 Billion tonnes of coal by 2030, he said it is high time that this measure is implemented with immediate effect. He also added the necessity of faster clearance of captive coal blocks by both centre and state with maximum preference being given to incumbent companies.
To facilitate private participation, he urged the need to create a level playing field for private players with state utilities in terms of allotment of coal blocks, coal linkages and pricing. Also seen attending the summit were Malay De, Chairman – WBSEDCL, Sriranjan Lacoul, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Government of Nepal; Prof. SP Gautam, Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, Partha Bhattacharya, Chairman, Coal India Ltd and Dr GD Gautama, Principal Secretary, Department of Energy and Non-conventional energy sources, Government of West Bengal. Maley De, in his theme address, outlined the importance of developing cross-border transmission capabilities to reduce power distribution cost which is an area of concern for major suppliers. Moreover, he pointed out that significant areas of cooperation should be built with Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal to tap immense opportunities existing in these countries. He also highlighted the impending necessity of consolidation by equipment manufacturers to get the desired benefits of economies of scale. Sriranjan Lacoul said that increasing conflicts and political insecurity have been the primary bottlenecks in attracting fresh investments from the private sector in Nepal. Urging investors to set shop in his country, he indicated that several sops and incentives are currently being provided by the government to the private players to augment power generation.
Addressing the necessity of maintaining environmental standards during power plant installation and subsequent generation, Prof Gautam said that comparative environmental pollution index reveals that 70% of industrial clusters generating power are critically polluted. In this context, development of non-hazardous materials processed for generating power, implementing requisite control measures and diesel pricing norms, adoption of Polluters-Pay-Principle and adequate development of renewable non-conventional sources of energy are required to maintain sustainable and balanced growth of the country. In addition to this, Partha Bhattacharya noted that in addition to the non-conventional sources of energy, concerted efforts will have to be streamlined to tap coal reserves in the region to meet the ever-increasing energy demand of the country. Projecting a 6.4% growth in energy demand to support 8% GDP growth, Mr. Bhattacharya noted that an additional 78000 MW capacity of power needs to built in the coming days, which will ultimately call for an integrated approach amongst all the stakeholders and rationalization of policy framework in the country.
Finally, Dr. Gautama mentioned that power distribution reforms, verification of financial viability of power projects and a series of coordination among various stakeholders is required to meet the growing energy demand of the nation. (Newmai News Network)