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Respite for tribals in Spiti valley as govt plans setting up of solar power project

According to reports, come winters and people of this remote Spiti subdivision in tribal Lahual and Spiti district are forced to survive without water and electricity for months together. But government’s initiative to set up a solar energy plant could soon end their woes.

The government is now mulling to set up a solar power plant, which could provide them electricity even during harsh winter months, when the region experiences heavy snowfall and the entire valley plunges into darkness.

State government had sought assistance from the department of renewable energy to set up a solar power plant in Spiti.

 The initiative came after secretary, irrigation and public health (IPH), Vineet Chaudhary suggested the government to explore options to set up a solar power plant here.

Chaudhary visited Spiti to explore options to end water woes during winter months, when sub-zero temperature freezes the water supply lines in the area.

Solar Energy Corporation of India has already conducted a survey to set up a 3-megawatt power plant in the area and has asked the government to identify land for solar power plant.

It has written to the district administration seeking 2 hectare land for the project. Additional deputy commissioner (ADC), Kaza, Rahul Chauhan told HT that the director of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) had visited Kaza for site inspection. “We had offered to give them one hectare land for the project,” he said.

“Later, the SECI demanded two hectare land to set up the plant for which we have prepared the case under the Forest Conservation Act,” he said.

Chauhan said recently SECI had written to HIMURJA- the nodal agency to sign power purchase agreement, adding that the matter was pending with it.

“Usually, Spiti valley draws electricity from the 2 megawatt Rong Tong hydel project. But due to a technical snag, the power plant was not operational. We used to bring power from Kinnaur through the 300-kilometre long line, which is not a secure solution to the winter power crises. But right now, of the four machines of 500-killowatt each, only one is working,” he said.

Former minister and Lahul and Spiti legislator Ram Lal Markanda said: “Due to sub-zero temperature during winter months, most of the Spiti valley remains without power. Earlier, we had proposed a solar power system for the valley as it is the only solution. The line from Kinnaur is not a permanent solution, as the 300 kilometre long line can damage at any point due to heavy snowfall,” he said.

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