Indian “Environmental Clearance” Pending for 20 Hydroelectric Projects Totaling Nearly 11,000 MW

India’s Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar addressed questions from members of Parliament on March 11, with regard to plans for the development of 20 hydroelectric projects. The projects, awaiting environmental clearance from the State or Union territory Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), would have a total installed capacity of 11,000 MW.

On Tuesday, March 10, during the Lok Sabha parliamentary session — Lok Sabha is the lower house of India’s bicameral-parliament — members posed the following questions to Javadekar with regard to hydropower development in India:

  • What number of proposals for hydropower projects are pending with the government for environment clearance?
  • What are the project details for states and union territories?
  • What steps has the government taken to expedite the clearance for the proposals?

“Government is appraising 20 hydropower projects in consideration of granting environment clearance to these projects,” said Javadekar, in a written response to the Lok Sabha.

Javadekar’s use of “Government” refered to SEIAA, the deciding organization within the government of India that grants environmental clearance on these types of proposed projects and the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC). According to the Ministry of Environment & Forests, SEAC scrutinizes each project and forwards its recommendations to SEIAA, which then decides whether to grant environmental clearance.

“The proposals are processed for environmental clearance as per the provisions under the 2006 Environment Impact Assessment Notification,” Javadekar said. “These projects will be accorded clearance within the stipulated timeframe and after receiving requisite documents from the project proponents.”

If approved, the projects would be developed throughout India’s union of 29 states and seven union territories (territories are similar to federal districts).

Twelve of the projects, which would have a combined total installed capacity of 9,266 MW, are proposed for development in Arunachal Pradesh. They include the 3,097-MW Etalin and the 2,880-MW Dibang, which are also the two largest proposed schemes on the list of 20.

Of the projects awaiting clearance: three are in Himachal Pradesh, totaling 431 MW and two in Jammu & Kashmir would have a total combined installed capacity of 1,220 MW. There is one project each in three states that include 200 MW in Karnataka, 110 MW in Sikkim and 108 MW in Uttarakhand.

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Gregory B. Poindexter, MA, serves an associate editor for PennWell Hydro Group, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Poindexter has been a full-time journalist since 2005. Prior to joining PennWell, Poindexter owned and operated a communications company that produces organizational imagery. He holds a master's degree in mass communications from Oklahoma State University

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