A series of initiatives drawn up by the State government for decentralised power generation and for exploiting non-conventional energy options are yet to gain momentum for want of timely political decisions and bureaucratic support.
Compared to the Tenth Plan allocation of Rs.75 crore for non-conventional energy and rural electrification projects, Rs.193.08 crore was earmarked for exploring various propositions to meet the energy deficit during the Eleventh Plan period. This included Rs.145.17 crore for non-conventional energy and Rs.47.95 crore for the Total Energy Security Mission (TESM). The 14 district panchayats have deposited Rs.7,61,55,317 with the Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT) which has also set apart an equal sum for the energy mission projects.
Grassroots-level energy security was identified as a thrust area during the Eleventh Plan period and TESM was launched to work proactively with the civic bodies. Other than tapping solar energy, it was proposed to set up micro hydro-electric projects, jointly by the civic bodies and ANERT, using the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund. Peravoor block panchayat in Kannur had identified 42 sites for generating power from waterfalls.
A joint venture company of local self-government institutions and ANERT was also proposed for promoting non-conventional energy projects under public-private partnership. The company with a share capital of Rs.2 crore was expected to complete a number of projects, including 12 new generation biogas plants, 14 biomass gasifiers of 20.630 MW, two biomass crematoriums of 500 KW, two solar steam cookers and four Scheffler cookers among others.
To complement such efforts, it was also decided to set up a Centre for Excellence in New and Renewable Energy and Conservation and a model residential polytechnic for training SC/ST students at Kuzhalmannam in Palakkad for Rs.30 crore. The first phase of this project was scheduled to be completed by this month-end, but it has not taken off so far.
Official sources told The Hindu that these projects had not materialised so far as expected. Moreover, procurement of devices through e-tendering and completion of the base line surveys taken up as part of the civic bodies' projects were all moving at a snail's pace. This laxity is feared to affect the execution of the total electrification projects for SC/ST families worth Rs.12.5 crore targeted to be taken up next year.