Large hydro electric dams are the best source of power in most cases. You'll notice how the western funded NGOs make a hue and cry about it everytime one is under construction.
They want to ensure developing countries like India and China don't make any progress on that front as Energy + Electricity + Water = Development.
Let us build out as many hydro dams as possible while the indgeneous nuke industry gets its act together. I hear that the 500 MW reactor being built will be mass produced once its initial design is perfected.
You're spot on as regard hydroelectric power being the best source of electricity. And India has abundant hydro potential. However, there are some downsides.
One of them as you yourself mentioned is the opposition to large hydro projects. While the agitation by the Medha Patkar types have no logical basis what it can and will do, as it did in the case of Narmada, is delay the project and escalate the cost of construction.
And also, again irrespective of the Narmada Bachao Andolan type agitation, resettling literally lakhs of people who would be dispossessed of their home due to the catchments area is a real headache in a democratic country like ours. It's not as if we could just evict people like the Chinese did with the Three Gorges project. It can potentially be a logistical and legal quagmire.
Finally, thereâ€™s no denying that the Terai region is earthquake prone so that will have to be taken into account when planning a large dam as the big catchments can bring considerable pressure to bear on the mantle.
The idea of mini-hydro projects, propagated by many NGOs are really not economically viable. Also the biggest disadvantage of a hydro project is that it's location is limited by geography.
However, despite all these apparent hurdles we must energetically follow up on the hydro potential of India. But this canâ€™t be to the exclusion of all other sources of energy, be it coal power/gas powered thermal plants, solar power and nuclear power.
India needed more energy like yesterday, not today, tomorrow or the next week. Weâ€™ve sat on our backsides procrastination for far too long. A combination of thermal, hydro, solar and nuclear is needed and we need to advance on four fronts simultaneously.
We canâ€™t afford to have laggards and we need to deal with the nuclear issue ASAP. Whether we deal it via the nuclear deal or on our own is the moot question. But we canâ€™t push it under the carpet and hope to fix the problem at a later date when we are supposedly stronger. A part of our strength will come from more electricity driving our economic engine.