A 4,000-MW ultra mega solar power project to have been set up in Sambhar, Rajasthan, a place home to many species of birds, hasattracted protests by environment lobbies. After failing to convince them, the Government is likely to shift the project to neighbouring Gujarat.

Bollywood connection

So, what happens to the land already acquired for the proposed power project? To earn revenues, an idea has emerged within the Government to develop the space as a tourist spot. The trigger for this came from the interest shown by Bollywood. The successful Highway and Aamir Khan’s PK were shot there.

For the new location for the power project, an official told BusinessLine , “Kharaghoda in Surendranagar district of Gujarat is being evaluated as an alternative. The place has a similar environment as that in Rajasthan to generate solar power.”

Sambhar as the site for the project was decided during the previous UPA regime, when Rajasthan was a Congress-ruled State and Gujarat was headed by Narendra Modi. The project is to be jointly developed by BHEL, PowerGrid, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd, Solar Energy Corporation and Hindustan Salts.

BHEL will be the main equipment supplier. In fact, Minister for New & Renewal Energy, Piyush Goyal, had admitted the project in Rajasthan was suffering roadblocks due to some ecological concerns being raised. Goyal, then, was confident that these issues can be resolved if the State and Centre work together.

“Our Government believes in solutions to problems. When Al Gore released his book An Inconvenient Truth about environment concerns, Narendra Modi had released A Convenient Solution. We believe in finding solutions,” said the official quoted earlier..

But, the government seems to have been unable to win over the environment lobby. Ecologists raised concerns over the project by saying this might affect the arrival and stay of migratory birds as the project could generate heat in the region. Concerns were also raised by the Rajasthan Government about the environmental impact on Sambhar Lake.

According to the official, shifting of the power project will help it to take advantage of the vast land area in Gujarat. According to the website of the company, it has 23,000 acres of land in Kharaghoda.

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