Tuesday, November 30, 2010

India set to miss power capacity addition target

India will again fall short of its power capacity addition target on account of equipment supply delays and other reasons, exacerbating an energy deficit that’s seen as a key bottleneck in efforts to sustain and boost economic growth.

The government had set a target of adding 20,359MW of power generation capacity this fiscal, but scaled it down to 18,600MW. The country has commissioned a capacity of 7,059MW so far in the current fiscal. In 2009-10, India added a capacity of 9,585MW as against a target of 14,500MW.

Projects are faltering because of reasons as varied as shortage of power generation equipment, delayed investment decisions, contractual problems, resistance to land acquisition, delays in environmental and forest clearances, geological issues and natural calamities. This will aggravate the current 12% peak-hour power shortage.

“Apart from the usual problems like delays in equipment supplies, we also had the misfortune of natural calamities as in the case of floods that damaged the commissioning of the first unit of Tehri Hydro Development Corp. Ltd’s 400MW Koteshwar power project,” said a top power ministry official, who did not want to be named.

While the plan was to commission the project’s first unit in December for which an investment of `2,100 crore has already been made, the project was flooded and the power house damaged. At least 65 people died in Uttarakhand after heavy monsoon rain triggered landslides and flooding in September.

Even as the target of adding 78,577MW in the 11th Plan period (2007-2012) was revised to 62,374MW, total capacity added till date is 29,000MW. The government is trying to find solace in the fact that the capacity added so far in the period exceeds the entire capacity addition in the 10th Plan.

According to the information reviewed by Mint, the government now plans to expedite the boiler light-up of projects of utilities such as Damodar Valley Corp., Neyveli Lignite Corp. Ltd and those in the state and private sector during the year to help it achieve the target. Mint had reported on 28 August 2007 that India will miss its target of adding 78,577MW of capacity in the five years to March 2012 substantially.

“We expect to achieve a capacity addition of at least 15,000MW in the current fiscal and the overall capacity addition of around 55,000MW in the current plan,” said the power ministry official cited above.

In the five years to 2007, the country added 20,950MW of capacity, against a target of 41,110MW. In the 9th Plan (1997-2002), against a target of 40,000MW, only 19,000MW was achieved.

Resentment grows among cane growers in Uttarakhand

Resentment among sugarcane growers in Uttarakhand is on the rise following a long delay in the start of the crushing season as well as the state advised price (SAP).

Protests are rising in certain pockets of Haridwar district and other areas where farmers have asked the government to declare the SAP immediately in order to start the crushing season. The big worry for the farmers is any big delay in the crushing season can jeopardize the wheat sowing in their fields where the cane crop is ready since the last month.

Barring one or two sugar mills in the private sector, most of the mills have yet to start the crushing.

“Any big delay can certainly hamper our efforts to increase the production of wheat crop in the coming season,” said Madan Lal, director, state agriculture department. However, he said the crushing season should have begun in the first week of November itself.

While Uttar Pradesh had already announced the SAP at Rs205-210 for sugarcane, Uttarakhand has not taken any decision yet.

When contacted, top officials told Business Standard that the decision regarding SAP would be taken shortly and the crushing season would start in the first week of December. “The files related to the SAP are lying in the office of the Chief Minister,” they said.

Traditionally, Uttarakhand waits for Uttar Pradesh’s announcement on the SAP in order to give better prices to its own farmers. Last year also, the SAP in the state was Rs192-197 which was much higher than that of the neigbouring state at Rs165.

The government is expecting an increase of 17,000 hectares of sugarcane acreage for the 2010-2011 period which is 18 per cent compared to the previous year, largely owing to steep hike in sugarcane prices last season.

The sugarcane department said the total sugarcane acreage in the state in 2009-2010 was 0.93 lakh hectares which is now expected to reach 1.10 lakh hectares in 2010-11.

The cash crop is being cultivated in four districts of the hill state – Udhamsingh Nagar, Nainital, Haridwar and Dehra Dun which are having 14 sugarcane cooperative societies. A total of 1.81 lakh farmers are members of these societies.


Uttarakhand revokes concessions to firm on land use change

DEHRADUN: After incurring the wrath of the high court, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank-led BJP government on Tuesday finally revoked concessions to a private company Citurjia Bio-Chemicals allowing it to make homes in an area demarcated for industry. The company that was to make homes on 18 acres along the Ganga near Rishikesh said it would challenge the government move.
Taken at a high-level meeting on Tuesday, the decision was conveyed to the Uttarakhand HC by advocate-general S N Babulkar during arguments on a PIL that had challened the land use change order. The bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice B K Bisht then reserved its verdict in the case. Sources said government withdrew the concessions as it had been misled by the company which allegedly concealed certain facts. However, Citurjia's spokesman Ashok Marwah described the charge as ''absolutely untrue''.

Read more: Uttarakhand revokes concessions to firm on land use change - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Uttarakhand-revokes-concessions-to-firm-on-land-use-change/articleshow/7019037.cms#ixzz16paaekLk

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wary of court order, Uttarakhand CM junks shady land deal

The BJP government in Uttarakhand on Sunday tried to pre-empt a possible judicial censure against its decision to sell off industrial land in Rishikesh worth Rs 400 crore for Rs 13 crore to a realtor.

Afraid of the Uttarakhand High Court coming down heavily on him, chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank moved in swiftly to scrap the deal.

The decision comes a day before the high court in Nainital was expected to pronounce a judgment on a PIL opposing the BJP government's massive concessions to Sturdia Developers Pvt Ltd in Rishikesh.

The reversal of the controversial land deal on Sunday is the second such decision by the chief minister who had earlier scrapped 56 hydro-power projects after a PIL was filed opposing them.

In the previous instance also, Nishank scurried to avoid a possible political fallout of a judicial verdict by scrapping the controversial power projects in July after a PIL had been filed alleging that the projects had been awarded to a company with no experience of running hydro-power projects.

In a repeat of the Sunday's reversal, Nishank had cancelled the hydel projects just a day before the PIL was to come up before the high court.

BJP sources say allegations of corruption in the Nishank-led state government has been so strife that even within the state BJP there have been murmurs of protest with former CMs and arch-rivals B. S. Koshiyari and B. C. Khanduri, joining hands to oust him.

Though Nishank got away by scrapping the hydro power projects before any damage could be done to him, this time he may not be so lucky.

The petitioner, Apurva Joshi of the Independent Media Initiative Society, said they will not allow the PIL to be rendered "infructuous" because the government has belatedly accepted that they had made a wrong decision.

"Nishank has adopted a clever strategy of making these absolutely questionable decisions and then withdrawing them if someone goes to court," Joshi said.

"We won't allow him to get away with this. We want an investigation into how such a blatantly wrong decision causing loss worth hundreds of crores to a poor state was taken. We want people punished for this," he added.

Expectedly, the Congress, which is reeling under the BJP-led Opposition onslaught at the Centre over several scams, has reacted sharply.

Senior state Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat, the Leader of Opposition, demanded the chief minister's resignation.

"The Congress party demands the resignation of CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank for his government's involvement in the hydro power and Sturdia land scams," Rawat said.

"When we raised the issue in the Uttarakhand assembly, Nishank said the government has done no wrong and are fair in both allotment of the hydro power projects and also on the land deal.

"But now that they are on the backfoot. They have taken this decision considering the fact that they will have to face embarrassment in the Nainital High Court. It is a win of the people of Uttarakhand," the Congress leader added.

The hefty concessions given by the government to Sturdia developers included waiving the charges for changing the land use pattern, which alone amounted to approximately Rs 125 crore.

Apart from the concessions, such was the political support for the proposed sale that more than two dozen clearances from the government were granted in a single day, which have now been cancelled.

The 15.47 acre land had originally been allotted to a chemical company, Citurdia Chemicals and was given the necessary relaxations.

But this industrial plot was allowed to be sold to the realtor with the same relaxations after the chemical company went bankrupt.

The Nishank government had earlier accepted the proposal submitted by Sturdia Developers before the Bureau of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction ( BIFR) to revive the industrial unit and sell a portion of the land to settle the liabilities of the bankrupt chemical company.

The CM had defended his decision saying: "We have done no wrong and have merely followed the instruction of the BIFR." But last week, the government sent a notice to the real estate developer seeking an explanation as to why the permission granted to them for the sale of land should not be cancelled because they had not made any attempt to revive the unit, which was the condition for allowing the sale of the plot.

The state government apparently accused the company of hiding facts from the government.

After serving the notice, the Nishank government sent a communication to the company as well as the BIFR that the permission to sell as well as the waiver granted for the land conversion charges were being withdrawn.

Devendra Bhasin, media advisor to the Uttarakhand government, evaded a reply on the government's decision to scrap the Rishikesh land deal.

"Since the development took place late on Saturday I don't have the papers in my possession at the moment. So I don't think I can comment on it," Bhasin said.


Uttarakhand AIIMS to be functional by Dec 2011

Dehradun: The Uttarakhand centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) would become functional from December 2011.

The AIIMS which is being built at Rishikesh would provide the much needed specialised care to the patients for which they earlier used to go outside the state. The 960 bed project would involve an outlay of Rs 826 crore.

The government has said that the OPD services would be started at the AIIMS in December 2011. The Institute would also run a medical college later on.

In the beginning of 2009, the government of India had initiated the process for the setting up these medical institutes on the pattern of the AIIMS in New Delhi in Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.

The Union Health Ministry has stipulated that all the AIIMS have to be ready and functioning before 2012. After the initial hiccups regarding the land issues, the construction of AIIMS was set in motion by the government and still lot of construction work remains to be carried out.

The process of appointment of the directors of the various wings of the AIIMS is underway, State Health Education Department Additional Secretary CS Napalchyal said.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Injured tigress gets treatment in Uttarakhand

Veterinarians treated a four-year old tigress who was injured in a fight with another animal in the Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

The tigress is unable to move her lower body and veterinarians suspect a vertebral problem.

"The tigress is depressed. When I checked the reflex of the tigress, I saw that the lower portion of her body is not moving. It is possible that she is suffering from vertebral problem or neurological problem," said J. L. Singh, a veterinarian in Pantnagar University.

"It would be immature to comment anything without treating her. We are doing our best and would be giving her lifesaving therapy and do the X-rays later," he added.

The tiger population in India is falling to around 1,450 from around 3,700 in 2001-2002. By Vipul Goel (ANI)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Uttarakhand to host South Asian Winter Games

After the Commonwealth Games, India will now host the first South Asian Winter Games in Uttarakhand beginning from January 7, 2011.

The Centre is spending Rs 110 crore for building infrastructure facilities and organising the event.

The games will be held in two phases with skiing event being organised at the hill resort of Auli, known for its natural slopes in the Garhwal region, between January 7 and January 10. The second phase of the ice skating event will be held in Dehra Dun between January 14 and January 17. “With the purpose of boosting winter sports games as well as tourism, we are organising the South Asian Winter Games in Uttarakhand,” said Brigadier (retired) S S Patwal, president, Winter Games Federation of India.

In the run-up to the two main events, there will be a host of other events which would include skiing coaching camp, skiing open championship, ice skating coaching camps and ice skating open championship.

Besides India, players from Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will participate in these events. Patwal said the games will be held in a well organised manner. “We have been preparing for these events since the past four years. The government has taken care of the games’ infrastructure,” said Patwal. A new ice skating ring has been set up at Raiwala with a cost of Rs 50 crore-Rs 55 crore and a new artificial snow-making system at Auli has come up, said Additional Sports Secretary B S Manral. The games are being organised by the Indian Olympic Association and the Winter Games Federation of India.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snowfall in higher Himalayas, cold conditions in lower hills

Dehra Dun, Nov 23 (PTI) Higher reaches of Himalayas in Uttarakhand today received snowfall bringing cold conditions in lower parts of the hill state.

Higher reaches of the Himalayas both in Garhwal and Kumaon including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Auli, Nanda Devi and Munsyari received snowfall while it was partly cloudy in lower hilly and plain areas.

The temperature in the state capital was, however, recorded at 25.1 degree C (max) and 13 degree C (min), which is normal.

Met department said most of the lower hilly and plain areas are likely to have an overcast sky for the next 24 hours with light rainfall expected in some areas.

Uttarakhand high court seeks list of all festivals where animals are sacrificed

The Uttarakhand high court has asked the Pauri Garhwal district administration to give it a list all such festivals where animals are sacrificed and also to identify individuals who perform the ritual killings.

The instruction of the high court came while hearing a PIL, filed by an NGO People For Animals and some other religious organisations, seeking a ban on animal sacrifices, claiming that festivals celebrated in the state have no such ritual necessity, district magistrate Dilip Jawalkar told PTI.

The district administration is gathering the data and listing such festivals, he said, adding that the authorities are trying to prevent such sacrifices.

Activists are demanding a ban on animal killings during the Bunkhal festival, to be organised on December 11 at Kalika temple in the district. It is expected that many goats and male buffaloes would be sacrificed on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the district magistrate has allotted Rs15 lakh for Bunkhal festival to give it a facelift.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One killed, 28 injured as bus falls into gorge

Dehradun, Nov 22 (PTI) A teenage girl was killed and 28 others were injured when a bus in which they were travelling fell into a gorge in Chamba area of Uttarakhand''s Tehri district today, police said.

The incident took place on Tehri-Chamba road when the bus, carrying a marriage party, was going to Nayal village from Jijli and its driver lost control over the vehicle, they said.

A girl died on the spot and at least 28 others suffered injuries in the mishap, police said, adding the number of passengers on board the bus was not immediately known.

Rescue operation has been launched in the area, they said.

Uttarakhand CM asks Baba Ramdev to name minister who demanded bribe

Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank today asked yoga guru Baba Ramdev to name the minister who he claimed had demanded a bribe of Rs2 crore to allow him to set up a new trust.

"Baba Ramdev must reveal the identity of the minister concerned," Nishank told reporters here as he promised to take stern action against the minister who dared to ask for a bribe from the yoga guru.

Last week, Ramdev had claimed that a Uttarakhand minister had demanded Rs2 crore from him about a couple of years ago to permit him for setting up a new trust. The allegation spurted protests from opposition Congress, which demanded a CBI probe into the charges.

Earlier, BC Khanduri, who was the chief minister between March 2007 and June 2009, had also asked him to name the minister, saying such allegations were denting his image.

Echoing the chief minister demand, Uttarakhand Krant Dal (UKD), a coalition partner of the ruling BJP, has also said "If Ramdev is speaking truth, he must come forward and disclose the name in the national interest in order to unravel the mystery."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's a bumpy ride for NTPC's hydropower foray in Uttarakhand

Power giant National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) attempt to enter the hydropower sector in Uttarakhand is turning out to be a bitter experience with two of its hydel projects being scrapped.

After being allotted 4 projects with a capacity over 1550 Mw, NTPC has been virtually left with two hydel projects — 520 Mw Topovan Vishnugad and 171 Mw Lata Topovan — in the hill state where the hydropower sector has taken a beating mostly due to religious sentiments as well as environmental concerns.

The Centre recently refused to accord permission for the 261 Mw Khasiabara project in Pithoragarh district on environmental concerns. After that, it was the turn of the 600 Mw Loharinag Pala in Uttarkashi district to fall prey to religious sentiments.

The National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) last month decided to close the project despite NTPC making a huge investment of over Rs 650 crore. Dr G D Agrawal, who was responsible for the scrapping of the 480 Mw Loharinag Pala and 381 Mw Bhaironghati projects, had been on fast demanding closure of Loharinag Pala project in order to maintain the free flow of Bhagirathi.

And now, NTPC has virtually been left with only one big project — 520 Mw Topovan Vishnugaad at Chamoli district where work is in progress. This project was recently at the centre of an environmental controversy related to its underground tunnel. Another project, the 171 Mw Lata Tapovan has not made any progress so far.

Unlike in Uttarakhand where NTPC had faced the ire of environmentalists and religious leaders, the company has not faced any rough patch in Himachal Pradesh where it is building the 800 Mw Koldam project.

“Uttarakhand may be a problematic state, but since the matter related to projects is a national priority, we will try our best to complete all those projects where we have already made commitments,” said an official of NTPC.

The official said the Centre is likely to compensate Rs 650 crore to the company in lieu of the closure of Loharinag Pala. However, the real challenge before the Centre is how to plug the 16 km long tunnel which has potential to become an environmental disaster.

“This tunnel must be filled and closed forever. Otherw


Friday, November 19, 2010

The royal wedding of Jodhpur's Yuvraj

Jaipur: The wedding of scion of Jodhpur royal family Yuvraj Shivraj with princess Gayatri of Askot in Uttarakhand was solemenised in Jaipur on Thursday according to traditional rituals and attended by Bollywood stars, international A-listers, politicians and corporate honchos.

The wedding function was held at the palatial Hotel Rambagh which was all decked up for the event.
Over 300 people were invited for the wedding and issued special entry passes.

Part of the baraat were international pop stars Bob Geldof and Sting, who are believed to be close friends of the Jodhpur royals.

According to a source, Bollywood stars Kabir Bedi, Moon Moon Sen and her daughters Riya and Raima, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, BJP leader Jaswant Singh and Congress' Jyotiraditya Scindia were among those who attended the function.

Shivraj, a former India polo player, arrived in Jaipur on a chartered plane while other members of his family and friends reached Kanakpura railway station near Jaipur by a special train.

Erstwhile royals, family members and friends took part in the wedding procession.

"It was exciting to see the departure of Shivraj in a 1930s Rolls Royce, preceded by elephants and horses, said a thrilled guest.

The 'baraatis' in their traditional Rajput finery -- achkan, churidar, swords, cummerbunds and colourful safas -- gathered at Rambagh Palace.

Shivraj, clad in a regal achkan from custom made Banarsi fabric, was in a chariot, brought from Jodhpur.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former chief minister Digvijay Singh, Prince Paras from Nepal and King Wangchuk of Bhutan were among the dignitaries attending the function.

Industrialists Kumar Mangalam, Singhania of Raymonds, Anil Agrawal of Vedanta were also spotted on the occasion.

The colours and costumes of Rajasthan and a glimpse of the state's royal past were the main attractions of this wedding.


Corruption scandals haunt BJP govt in Uttarakhand

Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata may have opened the Pandora’s box by highlighting corruption at the top echelons.

After Tata, yoga guru Baba Ramdev has also raked up another controversy by claiming that a minister had demanded Rs 2 crore as bribe from him two years ago. This is the latest of a series of alleged scandals that have come back to haunt the BJP government in the hill state. Without naming the minister concerned, Baba Ramdev further alleged that he had apprised the then Chief Minister of the incident at that time.

Senior BJP leader B C Khanduri, who was holding the top post two years ago, today asked Ramdev to disclose the name of the minister and demanded a high-level probe by an independent agency in this regard. “Swami Ramdev never informed me about any minister demanding Rs 2 crore and neither lodged a complaint. Had Baba Ramdev given me such information, I would have sacked the minister concerned immediately and ordered an inquiry,” Khanduri said in a statement. But Khanduri maintained that he had never doubted the integrity of Baba Ramdev, whom he holds in high esteem.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand High Court has fixed November 29 as the next date of hearing in the case pertaining to the Rishikesh-based housing project where the state government changed the land use pattern from industry to housing.

On a bunch of petitions filed by the NGOs, the government has so far maintained in the court that it only followed the advice of the Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) on the matter. The government last year accorded permission to Mumbai-based Citurgia Biochemical limited, which was producing chemical carbonate at its Rishikesh plant, for a housing project. A lockout was declared in the factory in 2003 after it became sick and the matter was referred to the BIFR.

Though the government claimed that the permission for the housing project was accorded under a BIFR revival scheme, the NGOs have claimed that such permission cannot be accorded for a housing project along the river Ganga on environmental grounds. The opposition parties are seeking a CBI probe claiming the project was cleared to benefit some BJP leaders.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chardham yatra ends

Dehra Dun, Nov 17 (PTI) The annual pilgrimage to Chardham in Uttarakhand ended today with the ceremonious closure of the portals of the high altitude Badrinath temple in the Himalayas for the winter season.

The main priest of the famed temple, perched at a dizzying 3133 metres in Garhwal Himalayas, locked the doors amid vedic rituals at 1555 hrs in the presence of senior administrative and police officials, said Anusuiya Prasad Bhatt, Chairman of Barinath-Kedarnath temple committee.
Thousands of pilgrims braved chilly conditions amid continuous snowfall to witness the closing ceremony, he said.

The Chardham yatra is a journey to four shrines, including Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath temples in Uttarakhand.

Considered the backbone of religious tourism in Uttarakhand, which attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year from the country and abroad.

The portals of Chardham remain closed from Nov to Apr as the area remains snow-bound during the winters.

All the four shrines would now reopen for pilgrims after a gap of six months in Apr-May next year.

While the portals of Kedarnath and Yamunotri were closed on Nov 7 on the occassion of Bhaiya Duj, Gangotri temple was closed on Nov 6.

Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines are situated at a height of 3200 metres and 4421 metres respectively in Uttarkashi district and Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district at a height of 3581 metres.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Delay in projects to cost exchequer Rs. 5.6k cr

The cost over-run of five hydro power projects due to various delays is pegged at Rs. 5,645.1 crore by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

The review of hydro projects worth over Rs. 1,000 crore indicated that the cost over escalation in two such projects was over 80 per cent.

The projects being monitored by the ministry include Tehri Pump Storage Plant, Koteshwar in Uttrakhand, Teesta Low Dam-III and Lower Subansiri.

The ministry observed that the cost escalation of the Tehri Pump Storge Plant (1000 mega watt) in Uttarakhand is as high as 88.58 per cent. The project would now cost Rs. 3,124.76 crore compared to original estimate of Rs. 1,657 crore. It is expected to be completed in March, 2012 against the original deadline of July, 2010.


Similarly, the other project where cost escalation is as high 84.27 per cent is Koteshwar hydro electric project (400 mw) in Uttarakhand. Now it is expected to cost Rs. 2,398.39 crore compared to its original cost of Rs. 1,301.56 crore. It was to be completed in April, 2005 but it is now expected to be operational by December, 2010.

One other such project is Teesta Low Dam Project-III (132 mw) in West Bengal. The project cost escalated by 66.39 per cent to Rs. 1,279.40 crore compared to original estimated of Rs. 768.92 crore. Now it is expected to be completed by December 2011 against its earlier deadline of March 2007.

The cost of 330 mw Kishanganga hydro project in Jammu and Kashmir has also be escalated by 62.69 per cent to Rs. 3,642.04 crore as against its original cost of Rs. 2,238.67 crore. It was to be completed by July, 2014. But now it is expected to be operational by January, 2016.

NHPC's yet another project Lower Subansiri (2,000 mw) in Arunachal Pradesh has run into cost overrun of Rs. 1,166.66 crore and is now estimated at Rs. 7,451.99 crore.

UJVNL to upgrade, renovate old projects

After finding it tough to make headway in new power projects owing to environmental and religious grounds, the state-run Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL) is now relying more on its old projects.

UJVNL has now sought permission from the state government and Uttarakhand Electricity Regulatory Commission (UERC) to modernise and renovate its seven old hydel projects.

This is in addition to the renovation process of three small hydel projects, which the UJVNL recently undertook with an investment of Rs 140 crore. These three projects were 3 Mw Galogi, 20.4 Mw Mohamadpur and 9.3 Mw Pathari.

“If we have not been able to construct new projects, it is better that we upgrade and renovate our old projects to increase our power generation,” said a top UJVNL official. The board has also approved the detailed project reports (DPRs) in this regard.

The seven projects are: 240 Mw Chibro, 120 Mw Khodri, 51 Mw Dhalipur, 33.75 Mw Dhakrani, 30 Mw Kulhal, 90 Mw Tiloth and 21.4 Mw Khatima. Most of these projects are running on 40-60 per cent of their total capacity owing to the ageing factor.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Uttarakhand cabinet asks Centre to act fast on its package

After getting an ad hoc relief of Rs 500 crore, the Uttarakhand cabinet today asked the Centre to act fast on its demand for a package of Rs 21,000 crore in the wake of the disaster striking the hill state during the monsoon season.

The government would like to take immediate steps for the rehabilitation of over 200 villages and other important works in the state for which it needs huge funds, said a government official.

“We have already spent Rs 372 crore out of the Rs 500 crore. While Rs 121 crore has been allocated for the reconstruction of the damaged roads, Rs 250 crore has been provided to the District Magistrates for relief works. And the remaining amount will also be exhausted in the next one month,” said an official after the cabinet meeting.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi in September made an aerial survey of the disaster-affected areas and later the centre announced an ad hoc relief of Rs 500 crore for the state.

Out of the Rs 21,000 crore package, the state has sought Rs 8,000 crore for the repair of nearly 1,500 roads which have been damaged. For the rehabilitation of nearly 200 villages, which have been declared unsafe, the state has demanded Rs 5,000 crore.

For the repair of the damaged canals, the state is seeking Rs 3,000 crore and for damaged drinking water projects/schemes, the package component is of Rs 2,500 crore.

Nearly 100,000 hectares of agriculture land has been washed away in the heavy floods and cloudbursts for which the state has demanded Rs 1,000 crore. Nearly 30 to 40 per cent of the apple crop and paddy has also been damaged.

Similarly, the state is also seeking Rs 1,000 crore for repair of damaged power projects and its related infrastructure.

Nearly 80,000 houses have been damaged for which the state has sought Rs 500 crore. For rebuilding damaged schools and colleges, the state is also seeking another Rs 500 crore.

A total of 170 people have died in the heavy rains that triggered cloudbursts, landslides and floods this monsoon season in the state.


Ratan Tata assures Uttarakhand CM on Nano production

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank on Monday said he has been assured by Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata that world's smallest car would continue to be manufactured at its Pantnagar plant, from where the first Nano was produced.

"During our meeting, I urged Ratan Tata that production of Nano should not be stopped at Pantnagar plant and he has assured me that it would continue to be manufactured from here," Nishank told a jam-packed house of prominent personalities of the hill state gathered for a lecture by Tata on 'India in 21st century: Opportunities and Challenges'.

Tata's assurance to Nishank has put on rest the rumours that Tata Motors is considering closing down production of Nano from its Pantnagar unit in a phased manner after its Sanand plant in Gujarat became fully operative. Tata is mainly producing Ace mini truck at Pantnagar plant.

Nishank said he had asked for two more things from Tata like guiding Uttarakhand as Management Guru and settling down in the hill state in future.

"Seeing a smile on his face in response to my requests, I am assured that he would settle down in the state and his decision in this regard would give us immense pleasure," Nishank added

Read more at: http://profit.ndtv.com/news/show/ratan-tata-assures-uttarakhand-cm-on-nano-production-121864?cp

Badrinath Dham’s gate to close on Nov 18

The holly shrine of Badrinath Dham's door will be closed on November 18 for the winter season.

The process to close the door was started on Tuesday and it would be finally closed for the six months due to heavy snow and rough weather condition.

Chief religious leader of Badrinath Dham Jagdamba Prasad Sati told reporters that the punch puja of presiding deity has been underway at this moment and Lord Ganesha's idol near Lord Hanuman idol has been shifted to 'Garbha Griha’.

Despite of incessant rain and poor weather, a large number of devotees paid obeisance to the holly shrine. Around 11 lakh devotees across the country visited the temple this year. An estimated Rs 11 crore received as offering this year.

On November 18, the statue of deity Uddhav will be shifted to Lord Pandukeshwar. During the closure period, the Idol of Uddhav will be worshiped at Pandukeshwar for the upcoming six months. Apart from this, the throne of the Adi Guru Snakaracharya and Doli (Chair) of the deity will be brought to Narsinh Temple at Joshimath for the worship.

Other three dham of the Uttarakhand - Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath - have already been closed for winter session.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chipko Foundation wins green apple award

DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand-based Himalayan Chipko Foundation, working for protection of trees in the region, will get the International Green Apple Award at the House of Commons in London tomorrow, the NGO said.

The award is being to the Foundation for its exposure of the Hak Hakook scam in Uttarakhand in which thousands of trees were cut on the pretext of providing wood to villagers whereas all the wood was sold by the timber mafia in the black market, Foundation president J P Dabral said in a release.

Himalayan Chipko Foundation has also been invited to International Green Heroes, an elite group of environmental achievers who use their experience to support related cause around the world.

The Green Apple awards began in 1994 and attracted more than 500 nominations this year.

The Awards are organized by the Green Organisation, an independent, non-profit environment group to recognize, reward and promote best environmental practices around the world, the release said.

Read more: Chipko Foundation wins green apple award - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/the-good-earth/Chipko-Foundation-wins-green-apple-award/articleshow/6924869.cms#ixzz15QWWP2dq

Uttarakhand bus mishap toll reaches 10

Three more persons today died at a hospital taking the toll in the bus mishap in Almora district to 10, police said here.

Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident, a day after a state-owned bus fell into a gorge at Bhajon area killing seven persons on the spot and injuring several others, officials said.

The Chief Minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 to next of kin of the deceased, they said.

Nishank further directed the officials to provide best medical care to the 22 injured.


Tata promises more investment in Uttarakhand

After having inversted about Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) in Uttarakhand the Tata Group's chairman, Ratan Tata [ Images ], promised on Monday expansion in the hill state.

Amid concern that Tata Motors was gradually lowering the production of Nano s ] cars from its Pantnagar factory, he said: "We are happy to be in Uttarakhand. We will expand more in due course of time."

He, however, expressed concern over the coming dilution of central tax incentives for investment in hill states.

"I think after the dilution of these taxes, it will have an impact on industry coming to the state. But we are not doing any rethinking and we are happy to be here," he said.

The state government has been lobbying the central government for continuation of these incentives.

The Group had put Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) into the Pantnagar manufacturing facility, from where the first Nano car rolled out last year after the fiasco in Bengal's Singur.

Earlier, Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said he had been assured by Tata himself that the production at Pantnagar would continue. Tata said the group wanted to diversify into agro-industry. "We will see what kind of opportunities we get," he said.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

U'khand to Shift 1,041 Families to Temporary Shelters

Uttarakhand decided to shift 1,041 families, who were rendered homeless due to recent natural disasters, to temporary shelters till a concrete plan is worked out for them.

Around 5,000 people are still living in tents, government buildings or with their relatives, State principal secretary (Home) Rajeev Gupta said after a cabinet meeting.

The meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank, decided to shift the affected as the winter is set to start soon, he said.

Natural disasters like landslides, cloudburst and floods following incessant rains badly hit eight districts in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands others rendered homeless.

Of these 1,041 families, about 70 per cent belong to the regions of Almora, Tehri and Uttarkashi districts, Gupta said.

District magistrates have been asked to identify lands at the earliest for setting up of semi-permanent structures for the homeless for a period of 4 to 5 months.

The cabinet also decided to regularly review the relief works being done in the affected-areas through monitoring committees set up at state, district and block levels.

All the ministers have been asked to visit their respective districts and hold a meeting with the officials concerned on Wednesday, he said, adding that the chief minister would also hold a meeting through video-conferencing.


135-km stretch of Ganga in U’khand declared eco-sensitive

The government has decided to declare the 135-km stretch between Gaumukh and Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand as an eco-sensitive zone, a move that will ensure that large projects, like a hydel-power project would no longer be allowed to come up in this area.

An in-principle nod in this regard was granted on Monday during the second meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The meeting also put its stamp of approval to the recent decision to ‘abandon’ three large power projects — at Loharinagpala, Pala Maneri and Bhairon Ghati — in these areas on environmental grounds.

“The decision to declare this stretch as an eco-sensitive zone would mean that certain kinds of activities that can have an adverse effect on environment and biodiversity would not be allowed in this area. Other activities which will be permitted will have to comply with detailed eco-management plans that would be drawn up for the area,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters.

Monday’s meeting also decided to raise the Central assistance to the states for projects approved by the NGRBA. As of now, the recurring costs for all projects are funded solely by the state government. On persistent demand of the states, the Centre agreed to share 70 per cent of this burden for the first three years of the implementation of the project.

The meeting was attended by Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and ministers of four other states through which Ganga flows.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Solar energy to electrify Uttarakhand Atal Grams

Dehradun: With a view to promote renewable energy in the state, the Atal Adarsh villages of Uttarakhand would be lighted up by means of solar energy.

It is noteworthy that each Nyay Panchayat headquarter has been chosen under the Atal Adarsh Gram scheme, taking the number of such villages to 670.

Under the first phase of this project, street lights would be set up in the 381 Atal Adarsh Grams in the Garhwal division, with an outlay of 30.88 crore.

The solar lighting would later be provided in the rest of the 289 Atal Adarsh Grams of the Kumaon division. More than 13,000 solar street lights would be set up under this scheme in the state.

The solar lighting work would be carried out by the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Developmet Authority (UREDA), an agency which is promoting the use of renewable energy in the state. Around 90 per cent of the cost would be borne by the centre and 10 per cent by the state government.

Under the Atal Adarsh Gram Yojna, the government proposes to provide a slew of basic amenities to the targeted villages. Such villages would be provided with housing, roads, electricity, water and toilets so as to raise the level of the inhabitants. Floriculture and horticulture would also be promoted to provide source of income to the people.

UREDA Director Nitesh Jha says this would bring about a qualitative change in the life of the people and also promote sources of renewable energy.

—iGovernment Bureau

Anupam Kher meets Uttarakhand chief minister, wants to set up acting school

Film actor Anupam Kher today met Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and expressed his desire to set up an international acting school in the state.

During their meeting at Nishank's official residence, Kher told him that he wanted to open his sixth international acting school in Uttarakhand as he had found the place very beautiful and full of budding talents, said an official release.

Kher said he had already set up five international acting schools which are running successfully in India as well as abroad.

During the talks, Nishank asked Kher to conduct a national-level acting workshop in the state, to which the actor immediately agreed.

Nishank said his government was committed to providing all possible support for promotion of film industry in the state. He said natural and scenic beauty is abundant in Uttarakhand and can provide good locations for film shootings for filmmakers.