India's hydel threat to Bangladeshi gas

Vol 4, PW 10 (21 Jun 00) People & Policy
     

What is the threat from hydel power in Arunachal Pradesh It comes from two projects - each with a Phase 1 and a Phase 2.

Subansiri (in the Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh). Phase 1 and Phase 2will have a combined capacity of 13,800-MW (6,900-MW each).

Dihang Phase 1 and Phase 2 in the Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, which together will have a capacity of 7,600-MW (3,800MW each). Power minister Kumaramangalam estimates the combined project cost to be Rs100,000cr ($23bn), with construction set to start in 2008.

"These projects should have come up fifteen years ago," Kumaramangalam tells Petrowatch, "But there was no advance planning and Delhi did not realise that Arunachal is a potential powerhouse. It would have cost us half the money if we had done it then.

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but it is better late than never." In May this year, work also began on a 800-MW hydel project at Ranganadi on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. Experts say Arunachal Pradesh sits on hydel power potential of 60,000- MW.

Its population density is India's lowest at 7 people per square kilometre. A correspondent writes that it is the only state in India where hydel projects can be set up without threatening the livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers threatened with submergence of crop-bearing lowlands.

Located 150-km from the Chinese border, these projects explain why India is so keen to normalise diplomatic relations with Beijing. Chinese troops occupied small chunks of Arunachal Pradesh during a brief border war in 1962.

In recent months Beijing and Delhi have stepped up efforts to improve ties.