Despite concerns, Ladakh solar plan attracts 50 companies

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The government’s ambitious plan to set up a 7,500 mw (mega watt) solar power project at an estimated investment of Rs 45,000 crore in Jammu & Kashmir’s Ladakh region has whetted the appetite of some 50 topline companies, even as tariff emerged as the key concern.

Prospective investors, including major manufacturers, raised a host of issues with the top brass of Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI), the implementing agency under the renewable energy ministry, at a pre-bid meeting on Monday. These ranged from the natural challenges to the bid structure.

But the elephant in the room was definitely the security situation in the state. “The government is committed to this project. It is a game-changer. The locations being offered are the safest,” Praveen Kumar, additional secretary in the ministry, said in response to questions from a few prospective investors. He received a shot in the arm from Leh council deputy chairman Gyal P Wangyal and Kargil executive councillor Punchok Tashi. Both assured their districts were untouched by terrorism. They also assured about availability of land, a key issue stalling solar projects across states. This perhaps explains the enthusiasm for the Ladakh project. 

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A Solar power panel in a Ladakh Village

Nature’s challenge was next on the list – from long and harsh winter limiting work window to bridges that may need to be strengthened for hauling heavy equipment. For Alok Nigam, head of business development at Sterlite Power, all these have a bearing on project costs and tariffs. Others sought subsidy or viability gap funding to keep tariff low.

Kumar remained non-committal, saying the government “will cross the bridge when it comes”. SECI is now considering extending the bid to June and making changes to address other concerns. The project is proposed to be set up at two locations. Hanle-Khaldo area in Nyoma block of Leh district will house a 5,000 mw unit, while Kargil district will get a 2,500 mw unit at Suru in Zanskar. Power from the Leh project is to flow to Kaithal in Haryana, for which a new 900-km line will be laid mostly along the Leh-Manali road.

source@times of India


Categories: Solar