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GTA receives Rs 8 crore for Sidrapong Hydel power plant

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Darjeeling : The GTA Sabha has received Rs 8 crore from the Centre for the renovation of the country’s oldest hydel project at Sidrapong, which the hill body wants to turn into a major tourist attraction once the revamp is over. Binay Tamang, the executive GTA Sabha member in charge of information and cultural department, said: “In the memorandum of agreement signed with the Centre and the state government, we had demanded that Sidrapong hydel project, the oldest in India, be restored. The Union finance department has allocated Rs 8 crore for its restoration from the annual central package of Rs 200 crore for the GTA.” According to the MoU signed by the central and state governments and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ahead of the formation of the GTA, the hill body has to receive Rs 200 crore per annum for three years from New Delhi as a special package. 

Tamang said the GTA had already received the amount and a meeting would be convened with officials concerned on Friday to draw up a blueprint to renovate the project. “Once the renovation is complete, we will promote the project as a major tourism attraction,” he added. The hydel project, situated 12km from Darjeeling and in the foothills of Arya tea garden, was commissioned on November 10, 1897, by the then acting lieutenant-governor of Bengal, Charles Cecil Stevens. The power station, situated at an altitude of 3,600ft, is fed by three streams, Barbata, Hospital and Kotwali. It still generates 0.6 megawatt of electricity a day and is currently managed by the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited. However, the plant produces power erratically as turbines are old and don’t function properly. Besides, the dam and the powerhouse are in run-down condition. The project was under Darjeeling municipality till 1978. On January 30 that year, the state government had taken over the hydel project along with 12 power stations around Darjeeling town. 

-  Telegraph

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