gets ready to pull plug on Koel Karo
4,000-crore power project drags on for
21 yrs, relocation of one lakh people sore point
NEW DELHI, MARCH 31: A Rs 4,000-crore hydro power project
that has been in the making for 21 years may have finally
reached its logical conclusion: the officials in charge of
implementing it want it shelved.
water — and crores — has flown down the bridge since the 710
MW Koel Karo project was conceived. Originally meant for the
benefit of Bihar, the project was to have been implemented
in Jharkhand after the state was sliced into two. Not any
more, it appears.
Prasad, chairman and managing director of the National Hydro
Power Corporation (NHPC) confirmed the company’s desire to
exit the project. ‘‘We have asked the power ministry to either
help us get clearance from the state government and the Centre
or give us permission to wind up the project,’’ Prasad told
The Indian Express.
have been keen on the project, since hydro power is an important
source which needs to be harnessed adequately in the country.
But delays in various stages of clearances from the state
governments and the resulting rise in cost make this project
unviable,’’ Prasad added.
project has acquired a rich history in the two decades that
it’s been in the making. It was handed over to the NHPC in
1981, when Indira Gandhi was prime minister. The cost in the
less expensive eighties: under Rs 500 crore. The project was
to have generated electricity at a rate of a few paise; today,
the estimated cost per unit of power is expected to be between
Rs six and Rs seven.
along the way, the NHPC acquired 100 hectares of land, maintained
a workforce of 200 people on the project site and ran up an
expenditure of around Rs 40-50 crore, almost 15 per cent of
its annual profit. Not surprisingly, justifying the project
in the NHPC’s account books is getting increasingly tougher.
roadblock for the project — which resulted in it being stymied
by successive state governments — has been the issue of rehabilitation
of around one lakh people on the land where the project was
to have come up. ‘‘But even after the Supreme Court cleared
a rehabilitation package for the displaced in 1989, no headway
was made after 12 years,’’ Prasad said.
Koel Karo project was designed as a novel, daring experiment:
a project which would run only for a few hours in the evenings,
when the demand is far greater. The project was also expected
to bail out the country’s eastern region which relied mainly
on thermal sources for power generation.