N Shyamsundar Singh
(Contd from yesterday)
The state utility has been selling the free energy to its consumers at a heavily subsidized sale rate of about Rs. 24 crores. Therefore, it would be more appropriate if the state power utilities maintain a separate account for the state income of Rs. 20 crores out of its revenue receipt.
In addition, Manipur is given an allotment of energy much more than that of any other beneficiary states of NER. The state has been purchasing the allocated share of about 80 MU at the sale rate mentioned above (Rs. 3.65 per unit). On an average, the state makes an annual payment of about Rs. 29 crores to the NHPC for purchase of the allocated share. If the state purchases 134 MU from any other source at the prevailing tariff, it may have to pay Rs. 67 crores or more in a year.
Mention may also be made about the other additionalities, the project authority offer in the matter of un-interrupted power supply in the state. For instance, when the injection of power from outside to the state through the long transmission system, is not possible because of technical reasons, the Loktak HE Project comes to the rescue of the state by releasing its entire generation for the state consumers only. In the critical period, when the inflow is extremely poor in all the hydro power plants of NER, the project authority collects and saves the inflow for several hours in the reservoir (Lake) and releases it to generate power required for meeting the demand of high valued consumers of the state like All India Radio, Doordarshan, Hospitals, Telecommunications and other very important offices etc. This kind of support and co-operation the project authority extended to the state are worth putting on record.
Every year, the Government of India collects quite a large amount of revenues and taxes through various agencies from different sources like, Railways, Post & Telegraph, Civil Aviation, Oil & Natural Gas, Central Sector Power Plants, Industries and so on. A part of the total proceed is allocated to the states under a specific criteria in the form of Annual Plan or Five Year Plan allocation. For instance, Manipur is given Five Year Plan allocation of Rs 35000 crores for use in its development programmes during 2015-16 to 2019-20. In addition, an amount of Rs.2,400 cr. is also kept reserve for Centrally Sponsored Schemes. It clearly shows that the state also receives its share from those sources mentioned above. Therefore, it may not be proper to abruptly conclude that loss suffered because of the project is much more than what it pays back.
Needless to say, many lakes and water bodies have disappeared in Manipur over the last couple of decades and may more are also on the verge of disappearing when these bodies are encroached, built upon for public or private use or reduced to dumping grounds for municipal waste and sewage.
The Government, both at the national and state levels have paid scant attention to the wellbeing of the lakes; rather ignored their ecosystem values. The civil society organizations and the activists also have managed to remain silent. Thus the lakes are always left to the mercy of several corrupt, influential and squatters who enjoy political patronage.
Even the Loktak Lake which receives threats constantly from encroachers might have faced the same fate had the Loktak HE Project not been there. Or it might have been an apple of discord for the villagers of the 45 villages located in and around the Loktak wetland complex and their outside supporters. This could be construed safely considering the past experience, recent happenings at Sendra and Takmu areas and more importantly, the never fulfilled eagerness of influential people to encroach for their own gains. Therefore, anybody who truly loves the Lake and its environs, must not let it be another victim of the menace of encroachment.
Present Trend in the Hydro Power Development: Sustainable Development through integrated approach is the motto of the Planners & Developers today. This is achieved through extensive survey & investigation on various aspects of the project by Engineers, Material Scientists, Social Scientists, Environmentalist and hosts of technicians and surveyors from different disciplines.
Accordingly, the approach has been reviewed and technology has been improvised and updated to suit the requirements at site. Many a new Ministry and Department have been created in the Union Government to examine the Project proposals meticulously. At the same time, many more corporate bodies have also been formed in late seventies and early eighties with a view to expediting development of infrastructure projects in the country under Central /State/Joint Sector.
Besides good roads, reliable power supply and regular water supply, the project colonies where people from different communities and profession stay, normally have such other facilities as required in day to day life of each individual. For instance, school, play ground, health care centre, community hall, bank, post office and market complex, are also available as logistics in most of the hydro power plant sites. Tourism Industry can also be developed suitably near a hydro electric power plan. These facilities eventually create avenues for propagating love and affection among the communities residing the project area. Gradually, the social growth, economic growth and cultural growth also take place. Thus the criteria of inclusive growth are always fulfilled.
Adequate provisions in the Acts, legislation and valuable directives of the Hon’ble Courts are already available now to make sure that one’s development work does not cause any kind of harm or damage to the environment and its biodiversity.
Protection and management of environment must be given the same importance as given to the project work. In case of hydro power development, apart from the technical and financial reports, two more reports namely Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental management Plant (EMP) are also prepared and all of them form an integral part of the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The project cost consists of a substantial amount of money required for Compensatory Afforestation, Rehabilitation & Resettlement of affected villagers and Catchment Area Treatment etc. of the project.
Therefore, hydro power Development is always a part of sustainable development.
The basic question which needs threadbare discussion is whether the environment shall be maintained with project or without project. The simple answer is that, without project, the degradation has already begun, it is an-open for-all case and perhaps no authority has so far come to the rescue of the forest & environment. With project, general public can be motivated and made aware of the merits and demerits of large scale deforestation.
(To be contd)
Source: The Sangai Express