India's Power Sector
Posted: 29 Jan 2007 23:31
Consortium of Indian Defence Websites
Abhiman wrote:Hi. Following is excerpt of an article by Ms. Arundhati Roy :-
For many years, India has been more or less self-sufficient in power equipment. The Indian public-secotor company, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), manufactured and even exported world-class power equipment. All that's changed now. Over the years, our own government has starved it off orders, cut off funds for research & development, and more or less edged it out of a dignified existence.
Today, BHEL is no more than a sweatshop. It is being forced into 'Joint Ventures' (one with GE and one with Seimens) in which its only role is to provide cheap labour while they provide the equipment and technology.
Why ? Why does more expensive imported foreign equipment suit our bureaucrats better ? We all know why. Because graft is factored into the deal..It's not surprising that almost half the officials named in the major corruption scandal that came to known as the Jain Hawala case were officials from the power sector involved with the selection and purchase of power equipment.
references from :
'India: Bharat Heavy Electricals-GE's refurbishment centre,' The Hindu, 17 Mar 2001.
'BHEL net rises 10% to 599 crore', ET, 30 Sep, 2000.
A project aimed at meeting the uranium fuel requirements of the nuclear-power programme is expected to commence soon with the Government deciding to give over Rs 13 crore to Andhra Pradesh for land acquisition.
A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today gave its approval to deposit Rs 13,70,50,000 with the Andhra Pradesh Government for the land acquisition for the Tummalapalle Mining and Milling Project.
The project in Cuddapah district is being set up by Uranium Corporation of India Limited, a public sector undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy.
"The approval of the project will meet the uranium fuel requirement of the nuclear-power programme," Finance Minsiter P Chidambaram told reporters after a cabinet meeting today.
Besides developing the area, the project will also provide direct employment to about 934 people in various categories.
The power situation in Maharashtra just went from bad to worse with the state electricity distribution company Maha Vitaran deciding to impose a complete power shutdown on industrial units in the state for two days a week to reduce consumption.
Kaiga N-plant to begin power generation soon
[ 15 Feb, 2007 1556hrs ISTPTI ]
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MUMBAI: The third unit of the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka is expected to begin generating energy by the end of February, but supply of power from it will be delayed, a top official said on Thursday.
The 220MW reactor -- the 17th one in the country -- will be "made critical" by the end of February but its "commercialisation" may be delayed by over a month due to the non-arrival of critical turbine components from Ukraine, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Chairman and Managing Director S K Jain said.
Though 99.9 per cent of the required components had arrived, Jain said NPCIL was facing "trans-chart difficulties for the last part of the consignment".
Kaiga's third unit was earlier scheduled to be linked to the southern power grid by March.
The Shipping Corporation of India is trying its best to move the consignment to India as soon as possible but there was some logistic problem as the port in Ukraine is not visited directly by its ships, and SCI would have to depend on other liners.
The turbine components have been loaded but "it is a matter of time and SCI is trying their best to get them to us as soon as possible", Jain said.
Ukraine's industry was selected by NPCIL for supplying the critical equipment through a global tender.
Jain also said the process of rehabilitating unit one of the Narora atomic power plant was complete and that this was the first time that laser cutting and remote control devices were used to replace the coolant channel and feeder pipes.
Taking a big leap into future in Renewable Energy sector, the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) Tuesday signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with seven Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the presence of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Chander Mohan.
These projects would generate 686 MW of power through 21 biomass power projects and four wind energy based power projects at a total cost of Rs 3300 crore.
BHEL commissions 250 MW unit in Maha
PTI[ FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2007 02:50:17 PM]
NEW DELHI: Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd on Friday said it has commissioned a 250 MW New Parli thermal power station in Maharashtra that will provide six million units of electricity every day to the energy deficit state.
BHEL had won the contract of synchronisation of the unit for Maharashtra Power Generation Company Ltd (Mahagenco) through a process of international competitive bidding, the engineering firm said in a release.
With the completion of this order, the company has so far commissioned nearly 7,300 MW of thermal generating sets in the state, which constitutes around 88 per cent of the total installed capacity of Maharashtra. This included the 740 MW Block II of Dabhol gas-based power plant.
Mahagenco has further placed orders with BHEL for setting up one unit of 250 MW each at New Parli and Paras project, besides one 500 MW unit at Khaperkheda and two 500 MW units at Bhusawal power plant. These projects are slated for commissioning in the 11th Five-Year Plan, it said.
GE Energy's Jenbacher Biogas Engines Power Cow Manure Methane-to-Energy Plant in India
Tuesday February 20, 11:30 am ET
GE's ecomagination-Certified Technology Generates Power and Heat, Reduces Emissions
NEW DELHI, India--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A GE Energy Jenbacher biogas engine is powering a successful demonstration cattle manure-methane cogeneration plant at a large dairy complex in India's northwestern state of Punjab, helping to address the region's mounting energy and environmental needs.
The Jenbacher biogas plant was cited as one of a number of successful GE projects during the formal launch of GE's ecomagination program in India on February 20 in New Delhi. Ecomagination is GE's commitment to address challenges such as the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions and abundant sources of clean water.
Since late 2004, GE's 1-MW Jenbacher biogas cogeneration system has supported the model waste-to-energy conversion plant at the Haebowal dairy complex in the city of Ludhiana. The 50-acre Haebowal complex, one of two centralized cattle facilities in Ludhiana serves 1,490 dairy operations that own 150,000 head of cattle, generating a total 2,500 tons of manure daily. GE's Jenbacher demonstration project uses the biogas with high methane content created during the anaerobic digestion of 235 tons of cow manure per day to generate electricity and thermal power (hot water).
In order to reduce the facility's greenhouse gas emissions (methane has 21 times the greenhouse warming potential as carbon dioxide) and to prevent the improper disposal of the animal wastes, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) installed and commissioned this demonstration power generation facility based on the biomethanation process of cow manure. PEDA is the State Government nodal agency for renewable energy projects in Punjab under the financial and technical support of the Ministry of New and Renewable Sources, Government of India.
Surplus energy after meeting the plant auxiliary requirements from the engine is sold to the local grid of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), while water heated by the engine is used to assist the fermentation process in the digester. In addition to the energy and thermal output of the plant, remnants from the digester process are used as fertilizer by local farmers.
"We are very pleased with the results of this biomethanation facility to mitigate the environmental impacts from such a large concentration of cattle in one area," said Shri M.P. Singh, Senior Project Manager of PEDA. "Expanding the recycling of cow manure for energy and fertilizer, while simultaneously improving our air and water quality, is clearly within our mission to promote a sustainable energy future. We are increasingly looking for possibilities of establishing more such plants in the state of Punjab."
"A critical priority for rural regions throughout the world is to replace inefficient waste disposal and fuel-burning practices, which can have negative impacts on the environment, with newer, more efficient energy technologies including GE's Jenbacher biogas systems," said Prady Iyyanki, CEO of GE Energy's Jenbacher gas engine business. "We expect the Haebowal demonstration project to spur other dairy customers to install similar systems that will greatly mitigate the environmental impacts of their operations."
Clarke Energy India Private Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of England-based parent Clarke Energy Ltd., longtime UK distributor and service provider for GE Energy's gas engines, supplied the Jenbacher JMC 320 GS-B.L unit as part of its turnkey solution for the project. Entec Biogas GmbH of Austria provided the biogas digester system to PEDA.
In 2006, GE announced its Jenbacher biogas application had received GE's ecomagination certification after completing the company's rigorous environmental and operational evaluation.
GE Energy's Jenbacher gas engine business is a leading manufacturer of gas-fueled reciprocating engines, packaged generator sets and cogeneration systems for power generation. GE's Jenbacher gas engines run on natural gas or a variety of specialty waste gases, including biogas, landfill and coal mine methane and industrial waste gases.
India Energy Market
Sector Name: Renewable Energy equipment
ITA Industry Code: REQ
The Indian renewable energy (RE) industry is diversified and offers strong business prospects to U.S. companies. The market in India for RE business is estimated at USD 500 million and is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent. The major areas of investment are: solar energy, wind energy, small hydro projects, waste-to-energy, biomass and alternative fuel. The new RE policy of the Government of India (GOI) aimed at generating 10,000 MW through renewable and a non-conventional source by 2012 is expected to further boost the growth rate of this sector.
Key factors responsible for growth in this sector include:
Large demand-supply gap in electricity
India is generously endowed with RE resources like solar, wind, bio-mass materials, urban and industrial wastes and small hydro resources
Low gestation periods for setting up RE projects with quick return
Conducive government policies
The large number of financing options available for capital equipment
Increasing awareness among industry that being environmentally responsible is economically sound.
The annual turnover of the RE industry in India is approximately USD 500 million. The investment in RE is estimated to be about USD 3 billion. Of the estimated potential of 100,000 MW from RE only about 3500 MW has been exploited to-date. The federal government has set a medium scale goal of electrification of 18,000 remote villages and meeting 10 percent of the countryâ€™s power supply through RE by the year 2012. These targets are in addition to those fixed for other RE devices or programs including establishing 1 million biogas plants, 1 million SPV (Solar Photovoltaic) systems for lighting, 8,000 SPV pumps for irrigation, 10,000 SPV generators, stand-alone SPV power plants, solar water heating systems, solar air heating systems, solar cookers including large steam cooking systems, 360 energy demonstration parks and establishing more solar retail outlets and solar passive buildings, among other projects.
The GOI is implementing various programs for utilizing solar energy such as solar PV (Photovoltaic) lighting and water pumping systems, solar cookers, solar thermal water heating systems and solar power generation throughout the country. Incentives include central financial assistance; 80 percent accelerated depreciation; relief in customs duty, excise duty and sales tax; soft loans; and government policies covering wheeling, banking, buy-back, and third-party sale of power are being formulated to encourage the use of non-conventional energy sources and to offset the initial cost.
India has not been successful in keeping pace in this sector, despite a large demand supply gap with respect to energy requirements and ample renewable resource availability. The U.S. is the pioneer in this sector. Several U.S. companies such as GE Power Systems, Solar Wall, NRG System, Alstom Power, Astro Power, Shell, Duke Solar and Sundanzer play a major role in the Indian market.
Although a few U.S. companies have market presence in India, industry experts feel that U.S has played a minimum role in tapping opportunities in this sector. There are projects for development that U.S. companies should consider if they are keen to enter the Indian market. Sub-sectors that continue to show a high growth rate and are expected to drive the RE market are briefly discussed below:
Solar Energy: The scope of generating power and thermal applications using solar energy is promising. Only a fraction of the aggregate potential in renewable resources and in particularly solar energy is being used so far. Processed raw material for solar cells, large capacity SPV modules, film solar cells, SPV roof tiles, inverters, charge controllers etc., have good market potential in India.
Biomass Energy: In a country like India, biomass holds considerable promise as 540 million tons of crop and plantation residues are produced every year, a large portion of which is either wasted, or used inefficiently. Conservative estimates indicate that even with the present utilization pattern of these residues and by using only the surplus biomass materials, estimated at about 150 million tons, about 17,000 MW of distributed power could be generated.
Hydro Projects: With numerous rivers and their tributaries in the country, the small hydro sector presents an excellent energy opportunity with an estimated potential of 15,000 MW. About 10 percent of this has been exploited so far. In order to accelerate the development of small hydropower in the country, the GOI also provides concessions for existing hydro projects including financial support for renovation, modernization and capacity upgrading of aging small hydro power stations.
Energy from Wastes: The rising piles of garbage in urban areas caused by rapid urbanization and industrialization throughout India represent another source of non-conventional energy. Good potential exists for generating approx. 15,000 MW of power from urban and municipal wastes and approx. 100 MW from industrial wastes in India.
Biofuels: The GOI recently mandated the blending of 5 percent fuel ethanol in 95 percent gasoline in 9 states and 4 union territories as of January 1, 2003. This mandate has created an approx. 3.6 billion liter demand for fuel ethanol in the entire country, and also further increase in the fuel ethanol component of the blend to 10% as of October 1, 2003. The significant demand growth creates a tremendous manufacturing opportunity for the U.S. fuel ethanol industry seeking to expand its investments internationally. A substantial import of fuel ethanol will be necessary to supply the product required to meet the burgeoning demand created by the currently effective GOI mandate.
Note: We are not providing a data table because, in most of the segments of this sector, no reliable statistics are available.
MUMBAI: Faced with severe power crisis in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Sunday said power purchase agreement for the controversial Dabhol power plant will be signed soon, which will pave way for substantially easing the situation in coming weeks.
"Power situation is very serious. We had a meeting to restart Dabhol project. We are signing PPA with Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pivate Limited (RGPPL). They need some help from our side. We have agreed to give them (the help). I think this will be completed by Monday," Deshmukh said.
The first phase of Dabhol project which generates about 700 MW was ready, he said, adding "we would like to complete the second and third unit. The gas pipeline will also be ready by April."
"We will be in a position to get at least 1,400 MW this summer", he said, adding that the third phase would be completed by December, enabling the plant to generate 2100 MW, easing the power situation in the state substantially.
"I do not say with Dabhol, the power crisis will be over in the state. Dabhol will ease the problem, not solve the problem altogether", he said.
"We will also be getting, by April, 500 MW from our own generation units, which includes 250 MW each from Paras and Parli power projects" Deshmukh said.
Having failed in the 10th Plan to achieve targets, the Power Ministry now plans to add over 76,000 MW of fresh generation capacity during the next five years - more than what has been added in the last 17 years.
The total capacity addition during 2002-07 is likely to be around 23,245 MW as against a target of 41,110 MW. This has forced the government to raise the bar in 11th Plan to 76,460 MW from over 65,000 MW estimated earlier for achieving the objective of providing electricity to all by 2012.
As the power crisis in Maharashtra worsens, statistics indicate that almost 25 per cent of the state's power is stolen.
Moreover, the biggest culprit in terms of power theft in the state is the Marathwada region, which is the bastion of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
In fact, Marathwada is the turf of some of the state's biggest leaders cutting across party lines.
For example, Beed where almost 60 per cent of the power is stolen has Gopinath Munde among its top leaders.
As leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Munde has often attacked the government on the power situation and led protests.
On the other hand, around 55.8 per cent of the power is stolen in Nanded, which is Maharashtra's Heavy Industry Minister Ashok Chavan's home turf.
Similarly 48.1 per cent of the power is stolen in Osmananbad, which has leaders like Padmsinh Mohite Patil and Rana Jagjit Singh Patil, while 46.7 per cent of it is stolen in Latur, which is the chief minister's area.
Politicians not concerned
However, the politicians are merely concerned with pointing fingers at each other.
"This is not true. You know how statistics can be fudged. Beed cannot be number one in power thefts. It must be the chief minister's area Latur which comes first," said Gopinath Munde, Leader of Opposition.
Considering that all of Maharashtra's neighbours have cut down power theft to as little as 10 per cent, there's no reason why Maharashtra can't follow suit.
The one reason that can be identified is that most of the theft is in the rural heartland, which is a critical votebank for all political parties.
assume that India's per capita energy production will need to get to at least 50% of that currently enjoyed by Europeans. Taking into account projected population increases, this means India's total national energy production per year will need to quadruple from 25 quadrillion BTUs per year to 100 quadrillion BTUs per year.
The dark shadow of the Sasan ultra mega power project seems to be creeping in on the Mundra ultra mega power project too, where some key deadlines have been missed.
Both the 4,000 Mw projects moved on similar bid-deadlines, and letters of intent (LoI) were awarded to the winning bidders â€” Tata power for Mundra in Gujarat and Lanco-Globeleq for Sasan in Madhya Pradesh â€” on December 28, 2006.
Rural Electrification Corporation funds will boost capacity by 2,500 MW
MoU signed at Secretariat Projects to yield in five years
HENNAI: The power sector in the State received a major boost on Monday with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) signing a memorandum of understanding with the Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) for a financial assistance of Rs. 16,000 crore.
Hans Raj Verma, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, and Anil K. Lakhina, Chairman and Managing Director, REC, signed the MoU at the Secretariat. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy were present.
The funds would be used for capacity addition at the North Chennai, Ennore, Mettur and Tuticorin thermal power plants to the extent of 2,500 MW. Mr. Veerasamy later told The Hindu that the North Chennai, Ennore and Mettur thermal plants would see an addition of 500 MW each. The Tuticorin thermal station's capacity would go up by 1,000 MW.
The cost of the capacity addition was estimated at Rs. 9,250 crore. Of this, Tuticorin would account for Rs. 4,000 crore, Ennore Rs. 2,000 crore, Mettur Rs. 1,750 crore and North Chennai Rs. 1,500 crore. A pumped-storage hydroelectric project with a capacity of 500 MW would be executed in Kundah, the Nilgiris, at a cost of Rs. 1,200 crore.
The assistance would also cover the establishment of 325 sub-stations at a total cost of Rs. 2,150 crore, the Minister said. The creation of power evacuation systems in all the plants would cost another Rs. 3,000 crore. A provision of Rs. 400 crore had been made towards cost escalation.
All the projects were expected to fructify in the next five years (XI Plan period of 2007-08 to 2011-12). They would not only result in additional power generation but strengthen the power transmission and distribution network throughout the State, according to an official release. Mr. Veerasamy said: "For the first time, the REC is providing such a huge assistance to a State."
Earlier, intervening in the debate in the Assembly on the demand for grants to the Energy department, the Minister said the Chief Minister would lay the foundation stone for the Jayamkondam lignite mining-cum-power generation project in January 2008.
"They will help in simultaneous execution of schemes"
# Assistance to TNEB carries an interest of 9.5 per cent
# Tamil Nadu better placed than northern States in rural electrification
CHENNAI: The Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) favours formation of four or five power generation companies in the State for simultaneous execution of more power schemes, its chairman and managing director Anil K. Lakhina said here on Monday.
The companies will serve the interests of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, he told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding with the TNEB for Rs. 16,000-crore financial assistance.
The Board, being a single large entity, would find it tough to draw more funds from the Corporation owing to restrictions in exposure norms. "It will be good if they come up with innovative mechanisms for enhanced funding," he said
The Corporation encouraged long-term commitments, as these would be beneficial to both the Corporation and the Board.
Financial assistance to the Board, Mr. Lakhina said, carried an interest of 9.5 per cent. It had to be repaid in 13 years.
50,000 villages covered
On the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutkiran Yojana (a scheme for rural electricity infrastructure and household electrification), Mr. Lakhina said against the target of one lakh villages, 50,000 were covered until 2006-07.
Tamil Nadu and other southern States were better than their northern counterparts in rural electrification. Tamil Nadu's share under the scheme was Rs. 700 crore.
He said the Board had identified five lakh households in remote villages that did not have power supply. As part of another scheme, the Corporation would provide a subsidy of Rs. 2,000 per connection for families coming under the below poverty line category.
Mr. Lakhina appreciated Tamil Nadu for having achieved a low level of line losses (18 per cent) against the national average of 33 per cent. The ideal level would be 7-8 per cent.
Scheme operational from April 1: Electricity Minister
# By end of the year, no village will be without power connection
# SEZ being set up at Kancheepuram to produce windmill parts
CHENNAI: Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veerasamy informed the Assembly on Tuesday that the Government had revived the scheme of granting power connections to new houses in 24 hours, if all documents were provided. It had become operational from April 1.
Replying to a debate on demands for grants, he said the DMK Government had initiated the scheme on an experimental basis in Coimbatore in 2000-01 and one-lakh connections were given. But, the AIADMK regime discontinued it.
The Minister said those setting up small units (up to 5 horse power) would get power connection in a week. New small and tiny industries would be provided connections in a month.
By the year-end there would be no village or hamlet without electricity connection, the Minister said. The Board had identified around 80 hamlets without power in hilly ranges including Udhagamandalam. Non-conventional energy sources would be tapped to provide power to them.
To encourage the windmill sector, a Rs.8,000-crore, 672-acre Special Economic Zone was being set up at Kancheepuram to produce windmill parts, he said.
Sops for local bodies
The Minister announced a series of concessions for local bodies unable to clear power bill arrears. The interest would be reduced from 12 to 6 per cent. He conceded another long-standing demand of local bodies, to measure their power consumption. Around 16,000 meters would be installed in the next 30 days in all panchayats and other local bodies. Local bodies would now have to pay the Board Rs.9,500 per electricity pole to be put up (instead of Rs.12,000.)
Mr. Veerasamy said at a joint meeting he had with the Local Administration Minister, it was suggested that local bodies could come together and establish a power plant. If this were done, they would get power even cheaper, at Rs. 2.20 a unit instead of Rs.3.50.
The Government had embarked on a scheme to convert all overhead power lines to underground cables. It would be taken up in corporation areas such as Coimbatore, Madurai, Salem, Tiruchi and Tirunelveli initially. The Board had set apart Rs.1,100 crore and work would be over in a year. In the second phase, Municipalities would be covered.
26 foreign firms
The Chief Minister would soon write to the Centre on the need for the State to enter into Memoranda of Understanding with private power producers. Twenty-six foreign firms were waiting with projects capable of producing 40,000 MW, with a total investment of Rs.1.6 lakh crore. They would all come in if the MoU route was cleared. The country would require about 75,000 MW and Tamil Nadu would be in a position to sell power to other States once these projects were cleared.
The Government was also likely to get coal from Assam for its power projects, he said.
Of the 20,600 contract labourers in the Electricity Board, 6,000 would be absorbed as permanent staff this year, he said. The remaining would be absorbed over the next few years.
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC News, Tripura
Hundreds of indigenous tribes people in India's north-eastern state of Tripura have been flocking to reclaim lands emerging from a dam's reservoir after a sharp drop in the water level there.
But they are being chased away by the police.
The state's Communist-led coalition government says it will not to let anybody settle down on the lands emerging from the reservoir of the 10 MW Gumti hydroelectric (hydel) project.
But Tripura's power minister Manik Dey admits production of electricity from the project has completely stopped since mid-March.
"There is hardly any water in the dam's reservoir to generate power but we are not saying goodbye to the project as yet," Mr Dey said.
A rise in the reservoir's bed due to heavy silting caused by soil loss from the hills around the Gumti hydel project is believed to be responsible for the crisis.
The Gumti hydel project was commissioned in 1974, despite fierce protests by nearly 40,000 indigenous tribes people whose fertile lands went under water.
Not even one-fifth of the people who were forced to give up their land were compensated because most tribesmen had no land records to prove ownership.
"There's heavy deforestation in the hills caused by the primitive agricultural practices in the hills around Gumti by the tribesmen who lost their lands to the hydel project," says environmentalist Abhijit Bhattacharya.
"There's also rampant illegal logging by timber smugglers. That's badly affected rainfall levels and led to heavy silting in the Gumti reservoir."
people building homes at the site of the reservoir
Tribals are taking over the land that has emerged from the reservoir
This has prompted demands for scrapping the Gumti dam, so that the dam lands can be redistributed amongst Tripura's landless tribal population.
Rabindra Debbarma, general secretary of the opposition Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), wants the Gumti dam to be scrapped to "undo a historical injustice" against the indigenous tribes people of Tripura, who have been marginalised in their own state by ceaseless influx of Bengali settlers from what is now Bangladesh.
Tribals now account for less than 30% of Tripura's population, Bengali settlers account for the rest.
Most tribals have lost their lands to the settlers and that has fuelled a violent insurgency with young men and women from landless families joining the state's two major rebel groups.
"The Left coalition government that rules Tripura has an historic opportunity to undo the injustice by restoring lands to tribals who don't have them. That can kick-start a process of ethnic reconciliation in our violence-scarred state," said Mr Debbarma.
But few tribes people have high expectations from the government.
"These pro-tribal leftists opposed the dam in 1970s, but now they want the dam to continue even though it has become a white elephant, " said Dhirendra Tripura, a tribal leader in Raisyabari on the southern extreme of the dam reservoir.
The Reang tribes people were the worst affected by the dam. And most of those rushing to takeover the lands emerging in the Gumti reservoir are Reangs - many of them displaced from the neighbouring state of Mizoram.
"The government should not allow a mad rush, a free-for-all grab. It should scrap the dam, reclaim lands systematically and redistribute it equally amongst the tribal families," says Rabindra Debbarma.
"The entire landless tribal population of Tripura can be gainfully resettled here."
The total area of the Gumti hydel project is 64.68 sq km. Tripura has nearly 25,000 landless tribal families, the recruiting ground for the state's insurgent groups.
But Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar smells a "conspiracy" behind the demands to scrap the Gumti hydel project, though lack of power generation and opposition demands has led him to promise the formation of an expert committee to look into the problem.
"Hydel power is still cheaper, much cheaper than power from plants run by natural gas," said Mr Sarkar. "So we cannot just bring down this hydel project just because some want it."
Sanjib Baruah of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research has been questioning the Indian government's plans to build more than 150 large and medium dams in India's northeast to exploit the region's estimated hydel power potential of more than 30000 MW.
Authorities admit that the existing seven hydel power plants in northeast India are underperforming (current production 319 MW against an installed capacity of 875 MW) due to reasons similar to those faced by the Gumti hydel project.
Mr Baruah not only wants "useless projects" to go but also a "serious rethink" about the new hydel projects - not the least because the northeast Indian states are rich in natural gas reserves and several large power plants based on them are on the anvil.