India state, hydro companies agree to develop 1,500-MW Tipaimukh

NEW DELHI, India 11/16/11 (PennWell) -- Hydro developers NHPC Ltd. and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (SJVN) have established a joint venture with India's Manipur State to develop the 1,500-MW Tipaimukh hydroelectric project on the Barak River in Manipur.

Officials of the two government-owned hydro developers and the northeastern India state signed a promoters agreement October 22 for setting up the joint venture. NHPC is to have 69 percent of the venture, with SJVN having 26 percent and Manipur 5 percent.

Tipaimukh is proposed to be a multi-purpose storage project with the main objective to generate 3.8 billion kWh annually. It also would moderate flooding of downstream areas. Construction is expected to require 87 months.

The project has been in the pipeline since 1954. In 2006, India's North Eastern Electric Power Corp. courted bidders for the project, which is to include two diversion tunnels, four spillway tunnels, two headrace tunnels, two surge shafts, two power tunnels, cofferdams, switchyard, powerhouse, and a main rockfill dam to be 163 meters tall and 390 meters long.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delayed the laying of a foundation stone for the project in 2006 due to opposition of local people who said the project threatened thousands of homes and a sacred lake holding the sword of a legendary hero. Tribal groups said the sword of revered hero Jadonang lies in one of five lakes to be inundated. Also to be inundated was an island called Thiledam, meaning life and death, where locals say souls of their people find eternal rest.

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