India shelves 3,097-MW Etalin hydroelectric project and restarts five small-hydro schemes

India’s Union ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has shelved the run-of-river 3,097-MW Etalin hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh, but in the northeastern most Indian state, five small-hydro projects are again active.

According to local news outlets, the US$550 million project is being stopped pending the completion of an environment impact assessment study of the state’s Dibang River basin.

In 2007, India developer NTPC Ltd. sought bids from consultants to prepare detailed project reports for the Etalin project that included a topography survey, geological and geotechnical investigation, hydro-meteorological and sedimentation-data collection and studies, environmental studies.

Etalin would have had one of the largest amounts of installed capacity in India, but published reports indicate MoEF stopped the project because it would have required felling more than 275,000 trees located on the Dri and Tangon rivers in Dibang Valley.

The move comes despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying Arunachal Pradesh is a state capable of providing hydropower for the entire country.

Conversely, five small hydroelectric projects in the state, which for a variety of reasons and varying lengths of time were shuttered, have been reactivated.

The hydroelectric sites include the following:

− 2-MW Rina in East Siang district;
− 50-kW Tinning in Changlang district
− 300-kW Saskorong in West Kameng district;
− 400-kW Sippi in Upper Subansiri district;
− 150-kW Mechuka in West Siang district; and
− 500-kW Siri Korong at Lhallung.

In February, India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) released details of the National Mission on Small Hydro (NMSH).

The multi-phase NMSH project began in May with the reactivation of the 2-MW Rina hydroelectric project in East Siang district. Phase 1 of the US$71.5 million project seeks to achieve installation of an additional 500 MW of small hydro capacity in the next two years. MNRE seeks to add an additional 4,500 MW of small hydropower in the subsequent three years, “for which preparation including appropriate policy interventions will be done in the first two years of the mission,” according to the NMSH.

NMSH’s objective is to address issues responsible for decline of the small hydro sector in India and to regenerate private sector interest in making investments in this renewable energy sector.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for

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