256 small hydro power projects cleared; Himachalis still wait for windfall



Unveiling the next level of hydel project allotment, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet on Saturday offered 256 self-identified projects with capacity ranging up to 5 MW, aggregating to 431 MW, to Himachalis fitting into eligibility criteria of the power policy of the government. Additionally, 16 projects of 67.10 MW capacity have been approved for allotment to non-Himachalis.

It may be mentioned that ever since Himachal opened up its power sector for private participation, not many state residents have failed to capitalize on it. While the government has been boasting about promoting entrepreneurship among Himachalis, the ground reality has been totally different. There is hardly any power project in the state that can be called totally owned by Himachalis with most of the projects being bagged by businessmen, politicians from south of the state. This time again it remains to be seen how serious the government is in its intend. That simply reserving projects for bonafied residents does not yield results is already clear as most of the earlier allotments have failed to take off due to various reasons.

The government was keen on promoting the cooperative movement in power production, but it has been a flop with interested parties getting no institutional support. With almost all big or small projects veiled in controversies related to environmental degradation or local rights, there seems to be hardly an scope for further blunders, but allotment of further projects without clearing the previous mess may only lead to further complications. There is enough mistrust within the state populace regarding any kind of power projects, and therefore it is important that the government shows sincerity this time.

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