The World Bank has approved a US$648M loan to THDC India Ltd for the construction of the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydroelectric Plant on the River Alaknanda, which is expected to generate an estimated 1,665M kilowatt-hours of electricity each year to help relieve India’s chronic power shortage. The project includes the TBM construction of a 13.4km long headrace tunnel.
The Project will see a 65m diversion dam built near Helang village in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand to create a small reservoir in the Alaknanda River. The 13.4km headrace tunnel will carry the water to an underground powerhouse near Haat village to generate the power. All the diverted water will then be returned to the river.
THDC has put into place systems to see that construction does not needlessly impinge upon the social and natural environment of the area hence the decision to excavate the headrace tunnel using a TBM so that noise and dust emissions are reduced, and that the nearby villages are not disturbed by vibrations from blasting.
THDC has also decided to insure all houses and structures within a defined corridor along the length of the tunnel so that these villagers can be compensated in case of any damage occurring as a consequence of excavation. The company has also identified specific locations where spoil generated by the Project will be disposed of.
The power generated by the Vishnugad Pipalkoti Hydro Electric Project will feed into India’s Northern Grid, benefiting consumers in the states of north India and improving the availability of power at a reasonable cost to those who currently have limited or no access to electricity. The Project will also provide the state of Uttarakhand with a royalty of 12 percent of the power generated, which is estimated to be around US$20M per year at expected tariffs.
A part of the Bank loan to THDC will help support the company’s capacity-building program that seeks to bolster its core technical staff and develop new competencies in the areas of social and environmental management at the Project and corporate levels.
The low-interest loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a six-year grace period, and a maturity of 29 years.