Darjeeling, Jan. 30: Plans are afoot to set up 10 mini-hydel projects, each having a capacity to generate 50 KW of electricity, to strengthen the rural electrification process in the hills.
Dawa Narbula, the Congress MP from Darjeeling, has already submitted a proposal to the state government following “positive response and assurance” from Vilas Muttemwar, Union minister of state for non-conventional energy sources.
“Since about 90 percent of the funds will be provided by the Centre (the state government will contribute the rest) and the minister has shown keen interest, we are confident that the mini-hydel projects will be set up in the hills,” said Narbula.
The MP said a similar project has already been completed at Lingsey in Kalimpong subdivision for Rs 72 lakh and added that survey for the next phase is on. An assessment of the Jhepy khola in Bijanbari has also been done. Each project is expected to cost anything between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
“Since Sonia Gandhi has stressed on complete rural electrification by 2009, I had to take the initiative, especially when the state government was not forthcoming about it,” said Narbula.
If the proposal gets the green signal, which Narbula is confident will, four mini hydel projects will be set up in Kalimpong subdivision alone and five in Darjeeling subdivision. Kurseong subdivision will have only one project.
Though the projects will be implemented by West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, hill farmers under the banner of Krishak Kalyan Sangathan will look after the day-to-day functioning of the power houses.
Bishnu Chhetri, chief coordinator, KKS, said: “We have about 35 KKS in the hills, which are registered with Nabard,” said Chhetri. He added that the farmers have already been mobilised to look after the functioning, following a meeting with officials of the state power department last month.
A similar proposal had been sent to the state government in October 2006, claimed Narbula, but it had not received much response.