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State moots shift from micro to macro planning for hydel projects

Mooting a proposal to shift from the old concept of micro-level implementation of catchment area treatment plans of hydro power projects.

Mooting a proposal to shift from the old concept of micro-level implementation of catchment area treatment (CAT) plans of hydro power projects,the state government is likely to approach the Centre to seek more liberty in spending of the huge funds received under such plans.

The spending of CAT plan budget,which is 2.5 per cent of the total cost of a particular hydro power project,at present focuses only on a particular rivulet or section of the river on which the project is being constructed. The minimum area to be treated under CAT plans is at least 15 per cent of the total effective catchment of the water body on which the project is based.

In a recent meeting,forestry and conservation experts argued that despite carrying out treatment — compensatory afforestation and soil conservation — of the project specific catchment area,a large sum remains unspent. This can be used on ecological work for villages or areas situated downstream the project.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest J S Walia said the forest department was already looking at a river basin-based CAT plans in future.

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“During a meeting with stakeholders,the forest department,which is the executing agency of CAT plan funds,floated an idea of having a river basin-wise CAT plan kitty into which the CAT plan funds will be deposited by all hydro power projects coming up on a particular river and the tributaries or rivulets feeding it. We are getting a positive feedback from the power projects,” said Walia.

The forest department has already started charting first river-based consolidated treatment plan for Sutlej and a similar plan is being mooted for four other rivers.

Walia added that the state was now contemplating to approach the Centre for a formal nod to use CAT plan funds in the proposed manner. The CAT plan budget of every hydro power project is directly deposited into the Compensatory Afforestation and Management Authority (CAMPA) fund maintained by the Centre. The money is released to the state on the basis of the execution plans submitted to the Centre.

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Till 2009,at least 23 hydro power projects in the state had prepared CAT plans worth Rs 334 crore,of which Rs 193.6 crore was deposited in the CAMPA.

First published on: 03-01-2011 at 01:03 IST
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