Mini hydel projects could be solution for power problems, but forests would go

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Daily News and Analysis
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http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_mini-hydel-projects-could-be-solution-for-power-problems-but-forests-would-go_1434048

It is an irony that Karnataka faces power shortage even during the monsoon. The state depends on mega hydel units. A weak monsoon means less power generation.

But the monsoon is a cruel season for the thermal power units, as wet coal hampers full utilisation of generation capacity.

So what is the solution? Mini hydel projects with short gestation periods can provide speedy relief at the micro level. These units could generate 25mw of power. However, environmentalists could be hard to persuade.

Officials say mini-projectsdo not impact the environment.

Speaking to DNA, Bescom managing director and additional director in-charge of Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL) Tusar Girinath said no clearance was required from the environment department for a project with 25mw capacity, although some forests would need to be cleared for construction.

The short-running streams towards Arabian Sea are not getting properly utilised. So far, 150mw of power has been generated in Western Ghats. At least 50 projects are under consideration for clearance. Many have been approved, but works are yet to start. They will be reviewed within two days.

Conservationists say the government should think of alternative sources to generate electricity instead of hampering the eco-system of the Western Ghats.

Citing the example of the Nethravathi river, they have submitted a report to the Western Ghats committee of the central government. This committee will be visiting the region this month.

The study in Shiradi Ghats located in the Nethravathi catchment has revealed that a 70-feet high concrete dam and a pipeline connecting the dam and turbine have disturbed the natural aquatic ecosystem. Forest land was cleared. The dam work has also resulted in increased man-elephant conflict as the migratory corridor has been damaged.

HA Kishore Kumar, president of Mallnadu Janapara Horatta Samithi, said that in 2007, the state government had sanctioned 258 mini-hydel projects across Karnataka, of which 76 are located in Western Ghats.

This task has been entrusted to the KREDL and at least two mini-hydel projects would be set up across each stream. Kumar said scenic waterfalls such as Kudlu Thirtha in Karkala Taluk, Malahalli Falls in Sakleshpur Taluk, Iruppu Falls in Coorg and Bandaje falls in Belthangady would be destroyed by the projects.

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Author: IndiaCarbonOutlook