The West Bengal government has decided to drop a plan to set up a tidal wave project in the creeks of the Sundarban Delta. The project would have been the first of its kind in the country.
The power department officials confirmed that massive cost escalation was the reason for the government decision to abandon the project, whose cost had increased from Rs. 48 crore in 2003 to Rs. 238 crore now.
However, differences of opinion have emerged over the cost estimate itself, with some experts doubting if the cost could rise in such an exponential manner in 10 years.
The Ministry of Non Conventional and Renewable Energy was providing 90 per cent of the project cost but with this escalation, the cash-strapped State government is finding it difficult to commit itself to providing the balance 10 per cent too.
Curiously till 2012, the State government was upbeat on the project, saying the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) has initiated action in identifying land for the project, whose survey work was delayed due to Cyclone Aila, which struck the region in May 2010.
The project, to be set up in the Durga Duani Creeks of the Sundarban estuary, was conceived in 1997 by the WBREDA.
After a pre-feasibility study, followed by a detailed project report by a city-based engineering consultancy firm, it was decided to proceed with the project, which would have a 3.75 MW capacity. It was to be a pilot project to study test and assess the potential of tidal energy in the country.
However, in 2007, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation was appointed as the agency to oversee and monitor the project. By this time, the cost had increased to Rs. 53 crore. Being the first project of its kind, it obviously had to run through the various rungs of regulatory bodies in the Centre.