Kolkata: The West Bengal government's move to extend the national grid to the Sundarbans delta for electrifying villages has come in for criticism from environmentalists.
"The land is soft and setting up large and heavy transmission poles may lead to greater erosion, and change the tidal patterns when installed in rivers and creeks," S P Gon Chaudhuri, former Director of West Bengal Green Energy Development Corporation Limited (WBGEDCL).
These transmission lines will also be vulnerable to cyclones that hit the region regularly, he said, adding the option of tapping renewable energy resources should be looked into.
New Delhi-based research body Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had noted in its recent report that "In this inter-tidal deltaic and cyclone-prone region, it is difficult to extend and maintain electrical transmission and distribution (T&D) lines from the mainland and islands due to the wide water channels".
The West Bengal government has planned to extend the grid-based electricity to the whole of Sundarbans, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. About 1076 villages are supposed to be covered under this plan.
The per capita consumption of electricity in the Sundarbans is less than 50 kwh/year, about 96 percent of which is supplied through grid.
Another problem with grid-based electricity is its irregularity and unpredictability, the report said, adding of the villages that receive power, 85 percent face daily power cuts for four-nine hours.