The Union Cabinet has approved an investment of ₹52.81 billion (~$723.43 million) for the 850 MW Ratle Hydropower project, located on the Chenab river in the Kisthwar district of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory.
National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC) will form a new joint venture company with an equity contribution of 51% and 49%, respectively.
The Union Government will provide a grant of ₹7.76 billion (~$106.31 million) to Jammu & Kashmir to support JKSPDC’s equity contribution in the joint venture company. NHPC will invest with equity of ₹8.08 billion (~$110.71 million) from internal resources.
The project has to be commissioned within 60 months. The generated power is expected to balance the grid and strengthen supply.
To make the project viable, Jammu & Kashmir government will exempt it from paying water usage charges for ten years after commissioning and reimburse the territory’s share of goods and services tax.
The project is expected to generate 4,000 direct and indirect jobs. The union territory will get free power worth ₹52.89 billion (~$724.99 million) and benefits worth ₹95.81 billion(~$1.31 billion) through the levy of water usage charges over the project life cycle of 40 years.
The share of hydropower tops among the installed capacity of renewables in India. According to Mercom India Research, as of September 30, 2020, large hydropower projects of 45.7 GW are operational in the country, accounting for 12.2% of the total installed power capacity in India. The share of hydropower is set to grow with new projects being developed.
Recently, the Himachal Pradesh government allocated 501 MW of hydroelectric projects to SJVN. The 104 MW Tandi, 130 MW Rashil and 267 MW Sach Khas hydroelectric projects are located on the Chenab basin. SJVN is already developing three hydropower projects – 430 MW Reoli Dugli, 210 MW Purthi, and 138 MW Bardang in Chenab Basin. With the allocation of these three projects, SJVN now has six projects with a total capacity of 1,279 MW in the Chenab Basin.
In its 2020 Hydropower Status Report, the International Hydropower Association said India overtook Japan as the fifth largest hydropower generator in the world with an installed capacity of 50.07 GW.
Harsh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.