Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday inaugurated the 65 MW-capacity first stage of the Kashang hydel project in Kinnaur district that will also enable the state earn certified emission reduction credits.
The work on the Asian Development Bank-funded hydroelectricity project with a combined generation capacity of 195 MW was begun in 2009 by state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL).
The Chief Minister said it was a major milestone in the state's hydropower generation sector.
He said this is one of the projects registered as a 'Green Power Project' under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2.
These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialised countries to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Speaking at the inaugural function, the Chief Minister said the powerhouse of the 195 MW project was complete.
"But due to some disputes pending with the National Green Tribunal, only 65 MW power is being produced presently and we are sincerely hoping for quick resolution of these disputes," he said.
He expressed satisfaction over the steps taken for rehabilitation and relief provided to project-affected families.
He said the project-hit families would be provided 100 units free electricity per month once the project is fully commissioned.
HPPCL Managing Director Devesh Kumar said rehabilitation and resettlement had been paid up to the tune of Rs 90 lakh to those who lost their land with the project commissioning.
The National Green Tribunal, in its May 4 order last year, directed the state forest department and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, which allowed diversion of 17.6857 hectares of forest land, to ensure that the entire proposal pertaining to the forest clearance was placed before the gram sabha of Lippa, Rarang, Pangi and Telangi villages for its perusal.
The villagers said the project would require diversion of a large area of forest land measuring about 119.6 hectares from the cold desert region at an elevation of 2,000 to 3,155 metres.
During the past decade, there has been a gradual decrease in the forest cover in Kinnaur which now is spread over only 10 per cent of the district's geographical area, the villagers said.
The NGT order was passed by the principal bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar.
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