In a landmark development, the Indian Power Ministry has cleared the National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) proposal to enter hydro power generation.

The development follows the government’s realisation that India’s long term future in the energy business would be in hydro power, NTPC chairman Rajinder Sing said recently.

He added that there is an urgent need to supplement the role of the National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) by setting up additional hydro capacity, and in turn, improving the country’s poor hydro-thermal mix and lowering the gamut of electricity tariffs.

Consequently, NTPC proposes to set up an installed hydro capacity of 2000MW over the next ten years. While thermal power generation will continue to remain its core business, it is already in talks with Uttar Pradesh government to build a 330MW hydro plant in the state’s Maeribhali region.

Spelling out NTPC’s expansion plan, Singh said: ‘By 2007 we hope to augment total installed capacity from the present 17,000MW level to 32,000MW, which will include 2000MW of hydro capacity.

•In a recent press interview Indian Power Minister P R Kumaramangalam said that ‘development means having to put your foot down sometimes’. Referring to environmentalists who have been campaigning against Indian hydro power projects in recent years, he added: ‘Disputes over water sharing or irrelevant objections from NGOs should not affect power generation. Hydro power is recognised the world over as being cheaper and cleaner than thermal power. Whereas we have a potential of 180,000MW of hydro power, we are generating only 20,000MW.

‘A few decades ago India and China had the same levels of power generation. Today China generates 200,000MW while we generate 90,000MW. We have come up with a hydro policy and we will now pursue this path,’ he stated.

(See IWP&DC November 1998, p14 for more details of India’s federal hydro power policy).