Hydro power can help N-E generate Rs 679 cr annually: Ahluwalia

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Guwahati: India's north-eastern region can generate revenue of Rs. 650-670 crore every year by taping its hydro power potential, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Monday.

"This is a region very rich in hydro potential...it will generate huge surplus that needs to be conveyed to the rest of the country. The region will earn a lot of income from this potential," Ahluwalia said, while addressing a conference here.

"What I am told roughly is that every 1,000 mw of generation capacity will generate revenue on the scale of something between Rs. 650-670 crore per year. If you have 50,000 mw then the revenue generation is 50 times of this."

The conference on Infrastructure Developments in the North East-Leveraging Opportunities was jointly organised by Planning Commission, Assam government and CII.

Ahluwalia also made a case for improving road connectivity saying it was crucial for power production.

"If we have to move big power equipment, it cannot happen without road connectivity," he added.

Neerja Mathur, chairperson of the Central Electricity Authority said that of 88,000 mw power to be added in the 12th Plan, the contribution from the north-eastern region would be close to 3,000 mw.

Ahluwalia said that government is closely monitoring the progress by Air India to use Guwahati as a hub for air connectivity, It is expected to be completed by September this year, he added.

Need to improve connectivity with North-East: Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Speaking about the new projects in aviation, Ministry of Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa said that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has sanctioned five projects for the region and there are eight more projects for which approval is sought.

"In the 12th Plan period it is planned to improve the air connectivity in the region. It is expected that in the next 10 years, about Rs. 5,000 crore will be spent in infrastructure development at airports. There is construction of greenfield airports, development and operationalisation of non-operational airports and upgrading and modernisation of existing airports," Mr Lavasa said.

He also urged the state governments to expedite land acquisition process for airports development.

The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region has shortlisted some private players to make Guwahati a hub for the air connectivity in the region, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Paban Singh Ghatowar said.

"For air connectivity we have already asked for expression of interest. We have shortlisted some of the private players so that we can make a hub in Guwahati. It is in the stage of finalisation and we may have exclusive airline for north eastern people," Ghatowar said.

Ahluwalia said that for allocation of resources, the government will make sure that central ministries responsible for undertaking infra projects are fully funded.

"The Finance Minister has agreed to make more money available ... so that they can actually complete the projects on time," he said.

He added that though there are special difficulties for projects implementation in north eastern region, the nature of these difficulties are now much more clearly identified.

"Government is focused on the need of a lot of infrastructure development in the north east ... having a section in the plan of the Planning Commission that development in the north east is a National Plan Objective", he added.

"In the 11th Plan, the north eastern region grew faster than the country as a whole. And I think that was a change that has occurred."

He also hoped that in the 12th Plan period, the growth rate of the region will surpass the national growth.

PTI

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