State-run hydro power giant NHPC is likely to begin construction of the 2,000 MW Lower Subansiri power plant in October this year as it has received the requisite approval from the Assam government, an official said.
NHPC had inked a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Arunachal Pradesh for setting up the project in 2010. However, since the project falls in the territories of both Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the latter's approval was needed as well.
"NHPC inked MoA with Assam on August 23, 2019 for Lower Subansiri project. As you know, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had given go-ahead to the project on July 31, 2019, and NHPC is expected to begin construction of the plant immediately after monsoon season is over by October this year," the official said.
Developers of power projects are required to sign MoAs with the respective states for setting up plants in their territories.
The Lower Subansiri project has been stuck for the past eight years due to various issues. The run-of-the-river project on the Subansiri, a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, is mostly situated in Arunachal Pradesh. However, some parts of the submergence area fall in Assam.
Work on the project is expected to be completed in three-and-a-half years with a total expenditure of Rs 20,000 crore (on completion).
The official said to allay safety fears, the dam has been designed and strengthened to withstand seismic activity up to a magnitude of 8 on the Richter scale, which makes it one of the strongest dams in India.
Work on the Subansiri project was started in 2006, but it came to a halt in 2011 due to various issues.
In 2013, the NGT stayed any further work on the project. Thereafter, the project was examined from every angle, be it safety or environmental issues, by national and international experts.
Finally, the project got clearance from all the agencies, including the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Recently, the NGT also gave its nod for the construction of the project.
The project is located near North Lakhimpur on the border of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The estimated annual energy generation from the project is 7,421 million units in a 90 percent dependable year.
Hydro power is among the cleanest sources of green power. It is essential for meeting climate commitments and ensuring grid stability in view of anticipated large scale integration of infirm renewable energy from sources like solar/wind.
The hydropower sector has been going through a challenging phase. The share of hydropower in the total capacity has declined from 50.36 percent in the 1960s to around 13 percent in 2018-19.