The long-pending forest clearance for 1500-mw Tipaimukh hydroelectric project may be accorded by the Forest Advisory Committee soon. The FAC is expected to take up the issue in its upcoming meeting this month and according to the sources in the utility, may accord the clearance to the project. The Tipaimukh project secured environment clearance around five years back. However, the forest clearance for the project continued to get delayed.
The clearance for the project, proposed to be developed through a joint venture company with equity participation of 69 per cent, 26 per cent and 5 per cent by NHPC, SJVN and Manipur government respectively, was last discussed by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) in January 2012. The FAC had recommended constitution of a sub-committee with experts from various fields such as ecology, wildlife, and hydrology to suggest appropriate forest conservation measures.
Furthermore, forest clearance proposal is also pending for a part of the effected forest land which is about 1550 ha in the State of Mizoram. NHPC has discussed the issue with the Mizoram government and NHPC officials along with the Mizoram state forest officials inspected the site in January this year.
The power ministry has taken up the matter with the environment ministry at several occasions. The ministry informed the environment ministry that these delays have a time and large cost over-run which then finds adverse mention in the CAG, Parliament and other Review forums including the Planning Commission.
The project developers are planning to begin with the tendering process for the project works. However, the pending forest clearance is a major hindrance in execution of these works. After achieving the forest clearance, the developers will initiate the tendering process of the project related works. Commencement of the main works at the project site is expected from March 2014.
The Tipaimukh hydroelectric project envisages construction of a 162.8 m high rockfill dam, at 500 m downstream of the confluence of the river Barak with Tuivai. Apart from power generation, the project is expected to control floods on 2039 sq. km. of land. The total land requirement for the project is about 31,950 hectares, out of which 26237 ha is forest land, while 5713 hectares are owned privately. The total cost of project development has been estimated at Rs 9,211 crore at the September 2008 price level.
The project was earlier being developed by NEEPCO alone. However, dissatisfied with the utility’s performance, Manipur government pushed for the project to be developed as a Joint Venture.