When hydro power projects are facing persistent oppositions,Himachal Pradesh has come-out with an innovative policy — to offer direct cash transfers to the project affected families,and a slew of other benefits to create their economic stakes in the projects. The cash benefits will be for lifetime of the project after it starts generating power.
The cash transfers to each family,with an additional 15 per cent incentive to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will be done from the sale of one per cent of free power,in addition to the 12 per cent free power accruing to the state from the hydro-power projects.
State cabinet ,which met on Friday was presided by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and gave its nod to revised guidelines regarding Local Area Development Fund (LADF) in relation to hydro power projects
Guidelines were framed in 2006 under the hydro power policy but needed change to suit the current scenario as the locals and project affected families were raising some of the persistent issues due to adverse effects on their livelihoods, State’s Revenue Minister Gulab Singh Thakur said.
The most important feature of the new guideline is one per cent free power to be made available by the power producer in addition to the 12 per cent free power to the state government,shall be allocated for the project affected families. This one percent free power will be distributed annually as a cash transfer to every family in the project affected area to the extent of 85 per cent. And the remaining 15 per cent will be distributed among the BPL families.
The new approved guidelines,a copy of which is available with the Indian Express,says There was a need to make the whole LADA (Local Area Development Authority) guidelines transparent and increase local participation,besides creating their stakes in the expeditious harnessing of the power potential.
The Directorate of Energy,which gets the receipts of the free power sale,will transfer the cash to the LADA headed by respective Deputy Commissioners,who will further disburse the cash to registered families.
The objects are quite farsighted and it is expected to motivate the locals to ensure that the projects are completed without delays. The policy is also in full tune with the best practices of benefit sharing internationally. Since the state government has got a World Bank funded Rs 1000 crore development policy loan for environment project,the state government will score significantly, says Principal Secretary (Power) Deepak Sanan.
Other changes brought in the revised LADF guidelines is the formation of separate committees under the district administration for each project with the project developer as Member Secretary instead of one committee for the entire district. Concerned MLA shall be represented on all these Local Area Development Committees.
The guidelines enhance the autonomy of Gram Panchayats to decide on schemes to be taken up and the selection of implementation agencies. They clarify the concept of project affected area and project affected zone and make a provision of normative allocation of funds for schemes in the project area during the construction of a project.
For smaller projects below 5 MW,care has been taken to ensure that wards of Gram Panchayats can alone be defined as project affected areas so that funds are not spent in other places. The flexibility in number of installments and timing of contribution to LADF in the existing guidelines has been removed and a classification based on project size has been introduced to impart a clear focus to committee functions,schemes that can be taken up and the people who can be benefitted from this.