Haryana eyes Bhutan to meet power demand

Plagued by power woes, Haryana may become the first state to find a solution to its energy crisis outside the country. A high power delegation, led by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is set to visit Bhutan on December 14, to explore the possibility of setting up a hydroelectric power plant in the neighbouring Himalayan nation.

The government is planning to set up a 2,000 MW plant in Bhutan and as per a rough estimate, the proposed plant will demand an investment of Rs 20,000 crore. The Bhutan government, under the proposed agreement, will provide the required land for the project.

Shortage of power has been a major embarrassment for the present government as it had promised to make the state power surplus by the end of 2010. Power Minister Captain Ajay Singh Yadav while speaking to The Indian Express, confirmed that the government was exploring the idea of setting up a hydroelectric plant outside the state. "It is at a preliminary stage but it's true that we want to rid the state of the power crisis. We are actually in talks with the Bhutanese government. Senior officers have already taken stock of the situation and soon a decision will be taken," Yadav said.

The state government has informally informed the Ministry of External Affairs about its plan. Only after an agreement is reached with Bhutan, however, will the Haryana government formally seek the Centre's permission for the hydro-electric project.

Since Haryana does not have enough water resources to set up a plant in the state, it started looking for alternatives. Surprisingly, Bhutan became one of the options. The neighbouring country's major source of income is from the hydroelectric power. It already possesses two plants that supply power to India.

If Haryana reaches an agreement with the Bhutan government, it will be the first time that a state has done so. Two delegations of senior bureaucrats have already visited the country to assess the situation. A third visit is in the offing.

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