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Is Etalin hydropower project financially viable? FAC asks power ministry

FAC has asked the power ministry to comment whether the project in its current form is viable. It has also directed Arunachal Pradesh to submit a cost-benefit analysis of the project.

Updated: May 12, 2020, 06:17 IST

By Jayashree Nandi, Hindustan Times New Delhi

Earlier this month, several scientists and wildlife biologists wrote to FAC, warning about the massive loss of biodiversity if Etalin Hydropower Project was allowed to come up. (Photo: Ramki Sreenivasan)

The environment ministry’s Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) has deferred its decision on two contentious projects --- Etalin Hydropower Project of 3,097 MW in Arunachal Pradesh’s Dibang Valley, and the exploration of uranium in Telangana’s Amrabad Tiger Reserve.

As per minutes of FAC’s meeting on April 23 uploaded on the Parivesh website late on Monday, FAC has sought comments from the power ministry on the Etalin Hydropower Project in view of the following:

a) The project is delayed by six years and the country’s energy plan may have changed

b) A large number of hydro-electric projects are pending due to environmental and forest clearance concerns



c) Tariff structure of the project was already high when proposed in 2014.

FAC has asked the power ministry to comment whether the project in its current form is viable. It has also directed Arunachal Pradesh to submit a cost-benefit analysis of the project.

Earlier this month, several scientists and wildlife biologists wrote to FAC, warning about the massive loss of biodiversity if Etalin Hydropower Project was allowed to come up. Twenty-six scientists from 16 scientific institutions also flagged that a Wildlife Institute of India report on the biodiversity of Dibang Valley (based on which the Etalin Hydropower Project would be assessed) has several “scientific biases” and doesn’t reflect a true picture of the biodiversity of Dibang Valley, where the Etalin Hydropower Project of 3097 MW is planned.

But FAC said the representations it got are all similar in content and add no new value or findings.

The Etalin Hydropower Project will involve clearing of at least 270,000 trees in sub-tropical evergreen and rain forests and in a vital tiger area.

The project is proposed to be developed by Etalin Hydro Electric Power Company Limited, a joint venture of Hydro Power Development Corporation of Arunachal Pradesh Limited and Jindal Power Limited (JPL). The total cost of the project is about Rs 25,296.95 crore, according to FAC factsheet. When HT contacted JPL on May 5 about the biodiversity footprint of the project, a JPL senior executive said the company didn’t want to comment.

On the uranium exploration in Amrabad Tiger Reserve, FAC said it wants a clear view from the state.

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