The West Bengal Government said here on Saturday that it will focus on hydro-power projects to meet the rising energy demand. Hydro-power has the potential of generating over 3 lakh MW of electricity.

“Our State has harnessed nearly 1,078.8 MW from hydro-power projects. To increase reliable and sustainable generation of energy, we recently did some surveys for the identification of new conventional hydro-electric schemes in the Darjeeling hills and the pump storage schemes in Ayodhya hills in Purulia district, which is likely to add around 2,000 MW by 2014,” said Power Minister Manish Gupta.

He was speaking at a workshop on hydro-power development organised by the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDC).

“We are planning to set up a hydro-power project in Bhutan on the Amochu river which will generate 550 MW. We are still waiting clearance from the Central Government to initiate it. Three new projects will also come up in Darjeeling and each unit will produce 80 MW,” he said.

“If we get clearance for the Bhutan project it will be the first overseas project of the WBSEDC,” he added.

The Central Government has already set up similar projects in Nepal and Bhutan, which are generating 14.1 MW and 60 MW respectively, said an official of the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.

Underscoring the urgent need for hydro-power development, Central Water Commission member A. B. Pandya said: “As India generates around 56,000 MW of hydro-power and 93,918.4 MW from coal-based thermal power stations, our requirement will reach eight lakh MW by 2032-33 [to achieve thermal-hydel balance]. With environment concerns over fossil fuels we have to develop the hydro-power resources.”

“States,” he added, “have a bigger role to play in power generation. Even though there are many reasons behind fewer hydel projects in our country, States should try to harness the pump storage hydro-power and tidal-power as an alternate source for power generation.”