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Rediff News  All News  » Business » L&T, Lanco face wrath of 'save river' campaign

L&T, Lanco face wrath of 'save river' campaign

December 28, 2009 12:41 IST

Larsen and Toubro After the state-run hydropower projects, it is the turn of two top private companies Larsen and Toubro and Lanco Infratech, which are developing two key hydropower projects in the hilly Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, to face the heat of the 'save river campaign'.

During the past two days, L&T, which is constructing 99 Mw Singoli-Bhatwari project on river Mandakini has been targeted by a group of politicians, who disrupted the construction work and set fire to some machinery of the company at the site under the pretext of the campaign.

An investment of Rs 600-700 crore (Rs 6-7 billion) is expected in the project.

Security in and around the Singoli-Bhatwari site had been strengthened in the wake of arson and protest demonstrations led by a local Left leader Ganga Dhar Nautiyal, officials here said. An L&T official told Business Standard that the company had already suffered a damage of Rs 15-20 lakh (Rs 1.5-2 million) after some of the machinery and a container were torched by the irate mob.

L&T was recently in news when the state government stopped its hydropower project saying the company must sell the 13 per cent of additional power from the enhanced capacity of the project to the state. L&T has already accepted the condition and an implementation agreement was signed in this regard last month.

Lanco, an infra company, which is developing the 76 Mw Phata-Beyung project on the Mandakini in the district is also facing the wrath of the same people.

"The work has been hampered due to the demonstration by these leaders," said a Lanco official from the project site. Lanco is investing Rs 500-600 crore (Rs 5-6 billion) in its project.

When contacted, most of the companies, which are developing hydropower projects in the hill state, conceded that an atmosphere for development in Uttarakhand was lacking.

"If the trend continues, it will be very difficult for us to complete these projects in time," said an NTPC official.

Last year, the government itself took the lead by suspending its two key hydropower projects -- 480 Mw Pala Maneri and the 380 Mw Bhaironghati project, buckling under the pressure of the save river campaign.

After the suspension of these two projects, NTPC was also forced to suspend its 600 Mw Lohari Nagpala project in Uttarkashi district.

Shishir Prashant in New Delhi/Dehra Dun