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Inter-ministerial talks for Bhutan hydropower

Em News Bureau ,  Monday, July 16, 2012, 17:37 Hrs  [IST]

The Planning Commission has asked power ministry and the external affairs ministry to furnish their comments on the issue of participation of private companies from India in development of hydropower projects in Bhutan. The move came after Tata Power and NCC Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (NCCIHL) expressed their interest in setting up power projects in the neighbouring country.

Tata Power, in its communication to the Planning Commission, had expressed its interest in investing in hydropower development in Bhutan, in April this year. Tata Power had mentioned that the company has already discussed the matter with the Bhutan government and they are keen to let Tata Power, in addition to the Central sector utilities of India, undertake co-development in Bhutan. In view of this, Tata Power requested Planning Commission to make recommendations to the ministries concerned to explore such possibilities and come out with a policy framework that permits private players to undertake large capacity hydropower projects in Bhutan and for importing power into the Indian grid. As per the current policy, such developmental support is routed through only NHPC and other Central sector utilities that have been mandated by the Indian government for the said cause.

Meanwhile, NCCIHL has also expressed its interest in developing a 1,000-mw hydropower in Bhutan and sign MoU with the Bhutan government for its implementation. The company backed its demand with its experience in developing hydropower projects and also implementing engineering, procure-ment and construction packages for several other projects.

So far, the ministries have been focused on expeditious construction of the three ongoing hydroelectric projects and early commencement of other seven identified projects to achieve the target of 10,000 mw generation by 2020 under bilateral cooperation involving the two governments (see table). Hence, the possibility of private sector participation in hydropower development in Bhutan has not yet been examined. However, following the recent representations from Tata Power and NCCIHL, the Centre has been pushed to take up the issue at the inter-ministerial level.

Untitled Document
Project MW
Chukha (1988) 336
Kurichhu (2002) 60
Tala (2007) 1,020
Under Construction
Punatsangchhu-I 1,200
Punatsangchhu-II 990
Mangdechhu 720
Sankosh 4,060
Kuri-Gongri 1,800
Amochu 620
Bunakha 180
Chamkharchu-I 720
Wangchhu 900
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