Work on the Meenvallom mini-hydel project, the first such project of a district panchayat, is nearing completion at Munnekkar in Karimba panchayat in Mannarkad taluk.

Work on the Chinese model mini-hydel project was inaugurated on September 9, 2010, by Minister for Local Administration Paloli Mohammed Kutty. It was scheduled to be completed in March this year, but was delayed owing to various reasons. The project will be completed by August, said district panchayat president T.N. Khandamuthan. He was talking to mediapersons after a review meeting of the project at Meenvallom on Tuesday. Mr. Mohammed Kutty presided over the meet.

The mini-hydel project was conceived by the district panchayat in 1995. A company was formed and the required administrative sanction to start the project was given. It also obtained environment clearance. However, the district panchayat ruled by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) could not implement the project. After the LDF government came to power in 2006, the district panchayat revived the project.

It was estimated to cost Rs.10.11 crore to generate 85 million units of power annually with a 3-MW capacity. But when completed the project will cost Rs.13 crore owing to cost escalation, said Chief Engineer of the project E.C. Padmarajan.

NABARD had sanctioned a loan of Rs.7.56 crore and the rest will come as equity from 12 grama panchayats, four block panchayats and the district panchayat under 70:30 per cent equity basis, he said. In 1999, the district panchayat formed the Palakkad Small Hydro-Electric Company to implement the project. But the project got delayed owing to failure to get forest clearance to use 1.15 hectares of forest land and the lack of required finance.

The forest land was taken on 25 years lease and a three km-long approach road was made to take the machinery to the site.

The project is aimed to generate peak load time power and a Power Purchase Agreement was signed with the Kerala State Electricity Board at Rs.2.50 a unit for the first five years and Rs.2.12 a unit for the remaining 10 years, Mr. Padmarajan said.

The project is expected to produce power worth Rs.2 crore annually.

There are also schemes to develop tourism in the area by introducing boating, trekking, wildlife watching, etc., at Meenvallom forest area.

This will also generate additional income making the project a very profitable venture for the district panchayat, the president said.

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