Tuesday, June 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kol dam work gets going
PM’s call to end deforestation
From Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

KANGOO (Mandi), June 5 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has expressed grave concern over the continuing degradation of environment and warned that indiscriminate development would spell disaster for the country in the long run.

Addressing a huge public meeting after laying the foundation stone of the 800 MW Kol dam project here today. He said reckless exploitation of natural resources and haphazard growth had over the years created a plethora of problems which needed immediate attention. The rivers had been contaminated and air had been polluted to such an extent that life had become a living hell in big cities.

The devastating cyclone which hit Orissa recently could have been prevented had the country not given up its traditional wisdom which had sustained and conserved the environment for centuries.

Worshipping trees was not a mere ritual but there was a philosophy behind it which highlighted the importance of forests in preserving the environment and the ecological balance. It was observed during the cyclone that the areas which had well grown mango plantations suffered minimum damage, he pointed out. The lesson was that large-scale deforestation must be stopped immediately.

Underlining the need for sustainable growth, Mr Vajpayee said proper harnessing of vast natural resources using modern technology would help the country achieve rapid development. Opportunity of the hydro power potential was one of the means. Unlike thermal power, hydel generation was eco-friendly and could go a long way in meeting the country’s growing energy needs.

He said the dwindling green cover could be saved only if the dependence of people on forests could be reduced. For this it was imperative to speedily exploit the hydro potential. He lamented that power generation was not given due priority after Independence as a result of which the country was facing an acute shortage of it. The situation needed urgent rectification as power was the key to development.

Himachal Pradesh, he said, was fortunate that nature bestowed it with a vast hydel power potential which, if exploited in a time-bound manner, could make it one of the most prosperous states in the country. The 12 per cent free power it would get from these projects would improve the economy by boosting agriculture production and bringing about rapid industrialisation.

Referring to the economic reforms, Mr Vajpayee said a false impression had been created that reforms were leading to unemployment. The statistics, however, reflected a different picture. More jobs were being created though it was a fact the number of office jobs had been dwindling. The demand for technically qualified manpower had gone up manifold and even foreign countries had opened doors for Indian professionals.

He assured that the Centre would extend all help to Himachal Pradesh in its endeavour to expeditiously execute the hydel projects and achieve self-reliance. Mr P.R. Kumaramangalam, Union Energy Minister, lamented that the share of hydel generation had dwindled to 24 per cent and said the government had now decided to restore the ratio of thermal to hydel generation to 60: 40 per cent. This would benefit Himachal Pradesh the most as it had 25 per cent of the country’s total identified hydel potential of 84,000 MW.

Referring to the dismal power scenario in the country, he said there was a shortage of 6 per cent at base load and 12.5 per cent at peak load. He said the peaking shortage could be effectively met only through hydel generation. The government had decided to increase the hydel generation capacity from the present 24,000 MW to 75,000 MW over the next 10 years.

He announced that the Kol dam would be completed in six years. The township would be set up in Bilaspur district and the project offices in Mandi district.

Earlier, the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, pointed out that the problems of the Bhakra dam oustees had not been solved even after 40 years. The government planned to carve out two new sectors to rehabilitate the remaining oustees for which it required Rs 100 crore. He requested the Prime Minister that the BBMB should be asked to give the required funds to the state.

He said the mistakes of the past would not be repeated. The government had finalised a comprehensive package for the Kol dam oustees so that they did not face any problem in resettlement.

Referring to the state’s efforts in harnessing the hydel potential, he said during the past two years work had been started on projects with aggregate generation capacity of over 4000 MW as against the 3830 MW installed capacity achieved during the past 50 years. These included the 300 MW Chamera — 11, 2051 MW Parbati, 1000 MW Karcham Wangtu and 100 MW Bassi projects. Besides, a large number of mini and micro hydel power projects had also been assigned to the private sector which would virtually make hydel generation a cottage industry in the country.

Mr Dhumal reiterated the state’s demand for setting up Himachal regiment in view of the sacrifices made by the brave Himachalis over the years for the country.

Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, said Himachal was on its way to become the energy state of India under the benevolent leadership of Mr Vajpayee who had been more than generous in helping the state. Mr Sukh Ram, HVC president, underlined the need for setting up a high-powered committee to monitor the progress of the project in which Himachal should be represented.

Mrs Jaywanti Mehta, Union Minister of State for Energy, also spoke. The project envisages construction of a 163m high rock fill dam on the Sutlej upstream Dehar powerhouse which will be located at the toe of the dam on the river bank. It will generate 3073 million units of electricity in a 90 per cent dependable year by utilising a drop of 140m created by unpouding the river.

The water of the river will be diverted to the powerhouse through four 1600 metres long and 6.54 metre diametre penstrock. In all, four generating units, each of 200 MW, will be installed at the powerhouse. The powerhouse will be constructed 4 km upstream the Dehar project and the tail race water will be again diverted into the river through a 100m-long open channel. As many as 14 desilting chambers each 18m wide will be constructed to help remove particles up to the size of 0.25 mm.

Himachal will get 12 per cent free power as royalty and 15 per cent share at generation cost. It will also be entitled 3 to 4 per cent share as the state of the region. The free power component alone will fetch a revenue of over Rs 150 crore to the state annually.

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