The Centre's showstopper solar power project in Ladakh can't seem to catch a break.
The government announced a raise in the capacity of the proposed mega solar power project to 10,000 MW along with a 5,000 MW battery storage and 3,000 MW wind farm, even when the initial plan continues to stumble over land issues.
"Every time a parcel is finalised, some new issue is raised," a source aware of the developments told TOI. In the latest instance, presence of a water body was "discovered" in the parcel of land in the Pang area after it was finalised on the basis of satellite mapping.
The original blueprint included a photo-voltaic set up of 7,500 MW capacity split in roughly 70:30 ratio between Leh and Kargil districts, respectively. But the topography of Zanskar region of Kargil, where a packet of 2,500 MW was to be built, was found unsuitable for the transmission line. After which, the whole project was shifted to Leh, with packets of 5,000 MW each in Hanle-Khaldo and Pang regions.
Battery storage was added to the revised plan to eliminate the need for two 900-Km transmission lines for accommodating the additional capacity, instead of a single line in the original plan.
"During the day, part of the solar power will be used to charge the batteries, which will feed the northern grid during evening peak hours. This will save transmission costs," power and renewable energy minister R K Singh told TOI.
Even with the original specification, the project was comparable to the largest in the world. The revised configuration will make it unique and raise the investment potential far beyond Rs 45,000 crore estimated earlier.
In March, a committee was tasked with identifying encumbrance-free land and submit its report within a month. About 25,000 acres of land in the Hanle-Khaldo region was initially designated for the Leh part of the project.
It has now been reduced to 20,000 acres after objections by the wildlife department. Villagers have expressed concerns over loss of grazing ground, though they are not opposed to the project. In Pang area, 185 km southeast from Leh along the road to Manali, 22,000 acres of non-grazing ground was identified.
But this too has fallen foul over the presence of a water body and SECI has been asked to apply afresh for alternative land, the report said.