Giving a fillip to the Arunachal government’s plan to develop small hydropower projects to provide electricity to the people on priority basis, the country’s highest planning body – the NITI Aayog, today agreed that in Arunachal Pradesh the projects upto 100 MW could soon be promoted and taken up as small hydropower projects under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). This was revealed in a meeting between Arunachal Chief Minister Kalikho Pul and CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant in New Delhi recently.
In his meeting with the CEO and other high-ranking officials of the NITI Aayog, Pul had sought the support of the planning body to help develop state’s untapped hydropower potential in realising the Prime Minister’s vision of 24×7 power for all by 2022.
To boost development of small hydropower in the state, the CM pointed out that the process of obtaining various clearances for the projects must be expedited and even made into a single window clearance system.
Pointing out on the impact of basin studies on the viability of small projects on river tributaries, the Chief Minister observed that such studies resulted in the delay in implementation of the projects despite clearances obtained from CEA and MoEF & CC. “We have to be practical in our approach and we must strikea balance between the demands of environmental concerns and obligations of development”, he said.
Pul reiterated that the projects proposed to be dropped as an outcome of Basin Study should be avoided as it may generate ill will and hamper future projects. The CM quoted an example from Lohit basin area, where all surveys stand completed, though projects are yet to take off for basin studies.
The Chief Minister suggested various measures to revamp the hydropower sector. He sought cooperation and engagement of people of both Assam and Arunachal to make the Subansiri project operational in couple of years, which he felt that it would have a demonstrative effect on other projects too. Regarding the Subansiri project, the Chief Minister said that it was important to take the people of Assam into confidence. The project has a lot of scope for irrigation, for providing drinking water as well as for flood mitigation. “We have to protect the interests of Assam too in these projects. And that can only be done through cooperation and consultations”, Pul added.
Also the state government would identify two early maturity projects, which can be commissioned with in next two to three years that will have a demonstrative effect on other projects, the CM revealed.
Mr Kant assured to follow up on the requests made by the Chief Minister and informed that a decision on this would be arrived at soon. The CEO agreed to have a follow up meeting on June 15 next to carry forward the agenda, with the State Power Department, MNRE, Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Power as well as the Ministry of E&F and C
Pul also raised the issue of the inherited liabilities amounting to Rs.1801 crores which were brought forward in the current financial year from the previous government and the lesser allocation of share of Central Taxes against recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission (FFC).
He highlighted that in the financial year 2015-16 Arunachal Pradesh has received Rs. 7075.58 crores, which was less than the 14th Finance Commission (FFC) recommendation of Rs. 7936.16, leaving a short fall of Rs. 860.58 crores. Similarly in the Union Budget 2016-17 there has been lesser provision and we have been allocated a sum of Rs. 7868.94 crores as against the FFC recommendations of Rs. 9157.42 crores, thereby again resulting in a short provisioning of Rs. 1288.48 crores, he said.
Pul Also pointing out on the shortfalls in the CSS schemes, the CM informed that the state received only Rs. 1980.78 crores under CSS in 2015-16 as against a commitment of Rs. 3245 crores, with a shortfall of Rs. 1264.22 crores, thereby adversely affecting crucial development projects.
The CM urged the NITI Aayog that the provision of a one-time grant of Rs. 5214.28 crores comprising the liabilities created by the previous Govt, the liabilities of the CSS and the shortfall in the share of Central Taxes over two years will tremendously help the State in realizing the aspirations of the people of this remote border State.
The CEO Niti Aayog assured to write to the Finance Ministry for release of balance funds at the earliest and said that a meeting would be convened on 17 June to work out the modalities.
The issue of better connectivity was a key focus area where intervention of the Niti Aayog was also solicited. Rail connectivity to the foothills of Arunachal through linking of the network from Assam to 11 places in Arunachal was should be taken up on priority, the CM appealed. The start of goods train services will also greatly help in providing forward and backward linkages for the agriculture, horticulture, medicinal plants and mineral sectors and will also help in the movement of heavy plants and machinery for large development projects like hydropower, as well as for troops of the military, said the Chief Minister.
He also sought the support of the Niti Aayog in creating civilian terminals in the 7 landing grounds being developed by the Defence Ministry and the Airport Authority of India. Sharing his vision of connecting all the District HQs and key tourist destinations by helicopter, not only for passenger transportation but also for use during disasters and medical evacuations, he said that for realising this dream the support of the Niti Aayog was critical.