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The project is made up of five related but functionally independent power elements, as conceptualized by the Ministry of Power. These are:
a) 400kV D/c Xeldem – Mapusa Transmission Line
b) 400/220kV GIS Substation at Village Dharbandora,
c) 220kV Xeldem – Xeldem (Existing Goa Electricity Department
(GED) substation) Transmission Line
d) 400kV D/c Xeldem – Narendra Transmission Line In Line Out (LILO) Line.
e) 765kV D/c Dharamjaigarh – Tamnar Transmission Line
Despite being part of the same special purpose vehicle (SPV), all the above elements are independent and non-interlinked.
On completion, it will form a complete ring viz. Mapusa>Kolhapur>Narendra>Xeldem>Mapusa ensuring reliable power for both North & South Goa districts.
The key features of GTTPL substation to be built at Dharbandora, South Goa are as follows:
a) Built with GIS technology: GTTPL substation will be built with the most advance GIS technology in the field of power substations.
b) First GIS substation at 400 kV in Goa: GTTPL substation will be the first GIS substation in Goa at 400 kV capacity
c) GIS substation is most reliable: Substation built with GIS technology is the most reliable as it requires very less operations and maintenance as compared to the one with conventional technology.
d) Less time required for construction & commissioning: GIS substation takes less time to construct as well as commission as compared to conventional method
e) Built on comparatively smaller land parcel: Substation at Dharbandora is on comparatively smaller land parcel having tree density less than 0.1 per hectare.
GTTPL recognizes the significance of the tourism sector in the overall development of Goa’s economy, and therefore, has taken all efforts to protect its rich flora and fauna. Transmission projects by default, involve minimal disruption to biodiversity especially in comparison to linear projects like highways and rail projects. Further, GTTPL has taken utmost caution and care, right from project planning to mitigation measures, and afforestation measures to ensure minimal disruption to biodiversity. Despite not being statutorily required to, Biodiversity Impact Assessment (BIA) has been carried out. The project will provide uninterrupted and quality power supply to the state of Goa even during the peak tourist season, boosting the sector. In case of agriculture, impact will be minimal and temporary, and not cause any change in the farming practices. The design, structure and height of the towers will ensure that farming activity including cashew tree farming can be undertaken under the transmission line.
As per the existing rules under the EIA notification 2006, and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, EIA report is not required for power transmission projects. Therefore, EIA has not been carried out for the GTTPL project.
Given the change of substation land at Dharbandora, and the recent Supreme Court order dated June 03, 2022, which states, “no new permanent structure shall be permitted to come up for whatsoever the purpose within the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ)”, GTTPL has changed the route alignment of Xeldem-Xeldem and Xeldem-Mapusa transmission lines as part of both the lines was falling in ESZs of Bondla Wildlife sanctuary and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife sanctuary, respectively. Tower footprint of revised route alignment of XMTL & XXTL is reduced by 20% in forest area as the number of towers remains to 53 in comparison to earlier no was 64. The revised route of both the lines is traversing through the lesser dense area of forest, requiring in a smaller number of tree cutting. With the changed alignment of Xeldem-Xeldem and Xeldem-Mapusa transmission lines, total forest area has declined by 19.7 Ha.
One of the most important distinguishing factors of overhead transmission lines is that they do not require land acquisition like in rail and road projects, but only “Right of Way” (ROW) access. Further, construction of tower foundations requires much smaller spaces in comparisons to rail and road projects (usually a maximum of 20*20 meters). Another important distinction with linear infrastructure projects is that transmission projects do not bifurcate forest landscapes due to the long span of cable stringing (400 meters) connecting the towers. This ensures minimum felling of trees, and allows free movement of animals on the ground. Although minimal felling of trees will be involved in the transmission projects, during the construction work, natural regeneration of trees can be maintained after the construction is completed. Further, transmission lines do not dispose waste material and hazardous substances in land, air and water and hence are non-polluting and environment friendly.
Currently, Goa’s power demand is mainly met through:
1) 418 MW of Power received from Western Region which is wheeled from MSETCL’s 400 kV substation at Kolhapur (Maharashtra) to 400 kV substation at Colvale in Goa.
a) Power from Colvale substation is further transmitted at 220 kV level network to Ponda and Thivim substations.
2) 100 MW of Power received from Southern Region which is transmitted from Nagjhari to Ponda and Xeldem in South Goa.
Further, the substation at Ponda, established in 1970, is 50-year-old. The substation caters to entire South Goa. Since Ponda substation is very old and is the only major source to cater to the entire South Goa, a new substation in South Goa that serves the district is required.
As of now, the state of Goa is unable to meet its growing power requirements because of lack of necessary infrastructure. The GTTPL project will enhance the current power transmission capacity and improve the quality and reliability, thereby ensuring long-term energy security of the state, and boosting industrial and commercial activities, including tourism. South Goa being a tourism hotspot will be an important beneficiary of this project as the region currently relies on alternative sources of power because of unreliable power supply. Access to reliable power will also prove to be less expensive and cleaner for the environment than reliance on power backup, especially for the small businesses in the area.
Very few research studies have been conducted in India pertaining to the impact of high voltage transmission lines on agriculture output, animals, human beings, and natural ecosystem. However, there are studies done internationally which have found little evidence that high voltage transmission lines have any significant impact on plants, animals, and humans.
Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Supreme Court submitted its in April 2021 for Three Linear Projects in Karnataka and Goa. The CEC recommended limited route alignment for GTTPL project. It recommended that the proposed 400 kV line should be drawn along the existing 220 kV corridor line in Goa after establishing connectivity between Mapusa and Sangod, and Sangod and Xeldem. This will ensure that there is no disruption of power flow.
GTTPL remains fully committed to complying with the directions of the CEC and has made necessary modifications in the line route to give effect to the CEC directions.
CEC in its report also acknowledged that
a) During the work of the project, trees will mainly need to be trimmed and not felled since the height of the towers will vary from 45-54 meters & statutorily a minimum ground clearance of 8.96 meters is mandatory for 400 Kv transmission line.
b) Transmission line will not affect the movement of wildlife and natural regeneration will be allowed.
c) Transmission lines do not bifurcate the forest into different parts except for arboreal animals.
d) Voluntary BIA/BMP was conducted by the company despite no statutory requirement for environmental impact assessment.
e) The project will have localized, temporary, and minor impact on the wildlife and biodiversity.
A transmission project such as GTTPL is different from other linear projects like railways and highways, as it requires minimum land/ earth cutting. Due to long span lengths (400 meters) between the towers, the proposed transmission line project will not cause disruption such as division of the forest area in two parts. In the forest area, the construction practices adopted ensure that there is no movement of vehicles beyond the last motorable road point. Construction at the site will be limited to the final assembling of the tower materials.