Union Power Minister Shri Sushil Kumar said that the government has accorded high priority for the development of hydro projects in the country and taken several steps in this direction including attracting private investment.

The Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament for the Ministry of Power met at Salal power plant in Jammu & Kashmir, under the chairmanship of Kumar.

He said the ‘ambitious’ plan is being finalised. For it, he said, a number of issues need to be addressed, such as timely sanction of projects; speedy environmental and forest clearance; rationalisation of conditions imposed on hydro projects while giving clearance on wildlife related issues; excessive payment of net present value for forest land; and the release of minimum of 15% of lean season discharge directly into the river.

Kumar said that a hydro capacity of 5980MW has already been added in the 10th plan so far and expressed confidence that the 10,000MW target could be reached – which would make it the highest capacity addition from the hydro sector in any FYP so far.

The Minister pointed out that the country’s hydro potential from major/medium schemes is placed at 84,044MW at 60% load factor, which when fully developed would yield an installed capacity of over 150,000MW. Out of this, only 28% has either been exploited or is under exploitation so far. Indian hydro development has experienced a steady rise from 508MW in 1947 to 32,735MW now, which indicates a growth of hydro power by about 63 times in a period of more than five decades.