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"Tamasomam Jyotirgamayah" (O Mother! Lead us from darkness to light) - has always been the essence of Indian spiritual being. Ethereally speaking, it has also been the wish of the modern man to escape from darkness to light- both metaphysically and metaphorically. The means that man has invented to meet this end is nothing else than the electricity. Today, it would be as much naïve to imagine the modern man without electricity as nihilistic to imagine the fish out of water (Razdan, 2003). Electricity is not a matter of life and death. It is a lot more important than that. Light is life. No nation can become a developed country without proper and efficient system of electricity. Universal power supply is the primary responsibility of a welfare state. Hence, it is one of the critical infrastructure on which sustainable economic growth of any country depends.
The term "Hydro" is derived from the Greek word for wate. The force of gravity causes water to flow downwards. The downward motion of water contains kinetic energy which is converted into mechanical energy and consequently into electrical energy in hydroelectric power station. Electric power generated with the help of falling water – propelled Turbines, is called Hydroelectric Power (Prasad, 2000). In general, falling water is channeled through a turbine, which converts the water's energy into the mechanical power.
Hydropower is one such resource, which is renewable, non-polluting, environmentally friendly and cheapest source of energy. The hydro power plants contribute significantly to the development of the area surrounded within and outside the project area since a network of roads and bridges are laid for the project, which connects the local area to the outside world and opens large number of avenues for the development of the area (Verma, 1996). India's first hydro station was commissioned in 1897 at Darjeeling. Since then many mega projects have come up and many more are in the pipeline. Although hydropower is considered a renewable and economical source of energy, yet its share has decreased in post independent India.
Due to the imminent oil price rise and depleting resources of natural fuel, the priorities of power sector are focused on the development of hydropower for capacity addition in forthcoming years. At present, the Ministry of Power (MOP) is the nodal agency and is concerned with the perspective planning and policy formulation in the power sector. The CEA (Central Electricity Authority), constituted under the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948 assists the Ministry of Power (MoP) in all its technical and economic matters and is responsible for developing a sound, adequate, uniform policy for the control and utilization of the national power resources. All the power sector industries, i.e., Thermal, Hydro, Nuclear, Renewable, Wind and such other organizations/ research institutions are available under one roof of Ministry of Power.
Key Players in the Hydroelectric Power Sector
The following corporations are engaged in generation and transmission of hydropower in India (Mathur, 2003).
- National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC).
- North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO).
- Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC).
- Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVN).
- Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
- Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC).
- National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).