Sharing benefits of hydropower at the local level will expedite energy and water resources development in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand State is richly endowed with hydropower potential of 27,000 MW, which is 18% of the total hydropower potential of India. However, only 3,970.95 MW (14.7%) is currently harnessed. Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL, the state owned hydropower company) declared that development is at a standstill despite the favourable hydropower policies developed by the State and Central Governments. Among many challenges are local level impediments. The present research program found that hydropower projects experienced cost and time overruns due to local agitations and protests. Hydropower developers have few incentives for further investment. Local residents continue to resist hydropower and are often suspicious of hydropower projects. Existing policies have not explored the solutions to local challenges. “Hydropower Policy 2008 of India” and “Hydropower Policies of Uttarakhand for Small, Medium and Big Projects” acknowledge that affected people must be adequately compensated and grievances should be addressed. Yet institutional mechanisms to address the grievances at the local level are inadequate or wholly lacking. “The Hydropower Policy for Developing Small Hydropower Projects 2015” is more innovative in local-level sharing of hydropower revenue but institutional mechanisms on how such revenue will be used have yet to become effective.