NEW DEHLI, India 6/8/12 (PennWell) – Owners of all hydroelectric projects on India's Ganga River might be asked to reduce their power generation in an effort to improve the river's flow, HydroWorld.com has learned.
The proposal -- which could call for an output reduction of as much as 50% -- would affect the 17 hydropower facilities operating on the Ganga in addition to 14 that are under construction and 39 more that are in the development stage.
Sources in India say the proposal must still be found legally viable, although it is being pushed by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan who says a "clean" Ganga is her "top priority." "The Ganga is a national river, and free flow is an environmental issue," Natarajan says.
Natarajan's proposal would hypothetically need to be cleared by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before being put into effect, although the country's Environment Protection Act could give the Union Environment Ministry the authority to implement it even without the prime minister's approval.
The measures are being opposed by the National Ganga River Basin Authority, which is headed by Singh, on account of the power shortage already being faced by India.
HydroWorld.com recently reported that India's Assam State is planning to expand its hydropower portfolio with as many as 149 new small facilities.