THE MAHARASHTRA GOVERNMENT, which is looking at various avenues to tackle mounting energy shortages, has cleared a comprehensive policy to encourage private sector participation in mini-hydro projects with a generating capacity up to 25MW.

The state irrigation department has already identified about 29 such projects with a total investment of US$51.8M (based on the per megawatt cost of US$0.07).

Although the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) had raised objections to the irrigation department’s proposal in this regard, it has agreed to provide its clearance under Section 44 of the Electricity Supply Act 1948 within two months since it would be referred to it. The policy was released on 11 November during a three-day Maharashtra Infrastructure summit.

State government sources said that initially the government would allow the promoter to set up the project and generate for a period of 30 years. Further extention beyond 30 years would be solely at the government’s discretion.

The promoter would obtain all statutory clearances and prior permission for power generation. The irrigation department would inform the energy department/MSEB of the sites which are being offered for captive generation of power.

The irrigation department would then specify the time period within which these projects be commissioned.