According to NEEPCO (North-East Electric Power Corporation Limited), North-Eastern states of India has the largest hydropower potential in all of India accounting to almost 40 per cent of the country’s total. Following North East Business Summit of 2002, held in Mumbai, various states began to kick start their hydroelectric projects, including Nagaland.
As of 2021, Nagaland had eight hydro projects ranging from small hydro projects (SHP) to Micro and Mini hydro projects as per Indian standards. Out of which, Doyang hydro project in Wokha district is the largest with a potential capacity of 75MW (Mega Watt) followed by Likimro hydro project in Kiphire district with a potential capacity of 24MW and the rest ranging from 1MW or less.
As per ICEA (Indian Central Electric Authority), 2014, the electrical requirement in Nagaland will increase to 554MW by 2031-32. According to the Advisor for the Department of Power, TovihotoAyemi, Nagaland has a requirement of close to 750 million units per annum, the majority of which is being purchased from Hydroelectric generation plants.
While the data released by ICEA reported that the peak demand on April 2020- March 2021 was 160 MW while the peak met was 155 MW. It is indeed a fact that the demand for energy shall increase as industrial activities accelerate. However, as compared to rest of the country, the per capita power consumption in Nagaland state is quite less and yet the state suffers from power shortages. Various factors such as low plant load factor, weak connectivity and limited carrying and distribution capacity could be some contributing factors. According to the data released by the Ministry of Power during the Winter Session of Parliament, the per capita consumption of India as per 2018-19 is 1,181 kWh.
In another report from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Govt. of India, 2019-2020, Nagaland has a SHP capacity of 182.18 MW but as of 2021 only a capacity of 30.67 MW has been installed while a 1.00 MW capacity SHP is under execution.
In 2022, a 1MW hydroelectric project at Tsütsüng, Longsa village was inaugurated while Budget 2022-23 saw the mention of some positive allocation including the 18 crore outlay to the power sector and the special emphasis on projects that aim at generating power in the state.
The clearance of a 24MW hydro project at Zungki and 42MW at Lower Tizu which is a project in collaboration with Asian Development Bank are positive key takeaways. Also, resolving the landowner issue in 22.5MW hydro power project at Hakchang village in Tuensang district and 27MW thermal project at Tuli are factors that can turn the tide around for Nagaland whose power purchase worth currently stands at 461.62 crore annually.
The setting up of a 5MW solar plant under the Department of New and Renewable Energy and the 20 MW solar power project in Ganeshnagar, and the initiation towards Green Village are some refreshing allotments that show signs of moving towards a greener and healthier environment.
Considering how North-East is regarded as the ‘Future Power of India’, production of electricity using renewable energy sources would be a welcome step. The advantage of SHPs lies in the fact that unlike Large Hydro Projects (LHP), it does not cause flooding, desertification, relocation issues etc. SHPs are usually clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly as most SHPs are based on river type which uses running water to drive the turbine for electricity generation.
Moreover, they are inexhaustible, involves low gestation period and low cost per unit energy. Since such projects are generally research driven and requires data collection with intense work force, implementation of such projects will generate employment to academic researchers and labourers. Thus, while transforming Nagaland into a self-reliant energy producing state, it will simultaneously contribute to India’s energy growth and improve the socio-economic status of the people.
The only challenge lies in the enthusiastic participation and co-operation between the three main stakeholders i.e., the developer, the government/department and project-affected people. However, proper communication and education can bring the three parties to a consensus harmoniously. The onus lies on how serious the implementation process can proceed.