Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday asked how energy-short India could solve its power problems with so many agitations against nuclear and hydel projects.
“Almost every state which earlier showed interest for nuclear power has agitation against land acquisition because some accident happened in some part of the world.... In the case of hydel, three projects starting from Lohari Nagpala to upstream of 100 km of Bhagirathi, we have had to abandon,” he said at a post-Budget interaction with the Confederation of Indian Industry.
“After the civil cooperation agreement (between India and the US, on nuclear power) for which we risked existence of our government, the pact has started yielding rich dividend. We have entered into arrangements with three countries, but domestic agitations are going on.”
The finance minister said the issues facing the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu had been sorted out, but production loss had happened. And, protests are reportedly still on against the project.
Without naming anyone, Mukherjee said one man went on a fast demanding not only projects up to 100 km from Gangotri, but even run-of-the-river ones, be abandoned. “Three existing power plants where investments had been made by NHPC to the tune of Rs 700 crore have been abandoned,” he said.
Environment scientist G D Agrawal on Friday broke his fast protesting against projects along the Ganga in Uttarakhand after the government promised to convene a meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority next month.
“The biggest problem faced by the Ganga is that 90 per cent of its ‘blood’ (water) is sucked by dams and other illegal activities taking place on its banks,” Agrawal had said.
Mukherjee said exploitation of hydro power was becoming more and more difficult and capacity building in the nuclear sector was getting complicated. Sources of energy other than coal-fired plants had to be tapped to make India power-sufficient. He noted there was hardly any Five-Year Plan where targets had been met. In the 11th Plan (2007-08 to 2011-12), the target was to generate 78,000 Mw, which was later cut to 62,000 Mw. Finally, the Plan would end with an additional 54,000-55,000 Mw.
State-owned oil companies today hiked jet fuel price by about 3%, the third time they have increased rates this month.